Friday, 1 October 2010

Review:- David DICKINSON – “Death on the Holy Mountain”

Year Published: - 2008
Where the book was from:- Pensby Library
ISBN: - 9781845296032
Pages: - 312pp
Genre: - Historical Crime
Location:- Ireland, 1905
How I came across it: - Serendipity
Rating: - ***** *****
One sentence summary:- In 1905, Lord Francis Powerscourt investigates a series of art thefts from stately homes of the Protestant gentry in Ireland.

Describe the plot without giving anything away:- Powerscourt’s investigation is hampered by the fact that none of the gentry will reveal the contents of the blackmail notes he assumes they have received. Meanwhile, some local folk are building an oratory on the top of Croagh Patrick – hopefully in time for the annual pilgrimage to the summit. With his friend Johnny Fitzgerald Powerscourt slowly closes in but discover that their own patriotism is called into question.

General comments:- Humour, excellent writing, a wonderful summary of the Irish question and a cosy crime plot to boot – what more could one ask for from a book?

Lord Francis Powerscourt Series
1. Goodnight, Sweet Prince (2002)
2. Death and the Jubilee (2002)
3. Death of an Old Master (2004)
4. Death of a Chancellor (2004)
5. Death Called to the Bar (2006)
6. Death on the Nevskii Prospekt (2006)
7. Death On the Holy Mountain (2008)
8. Death of a Pilgrim (2009)
9. Death of a Wine Merchant (2010)
10. Death in a Scarlet Coat (2011)

And he knew that one of the many divisions into which the world’s population was split – those who can whistle and those who can’t, those who adore Venice and those who complain about the smell, those who can order drinks in theatre bars at the interval and those who can’t – was the distinction between those who can unwrap parcels neatly and those who can’t. Powerscourt knew his wife Lucy would have the thing open, the string tied neatly in a ball, the box itself virtually intact and the available for reuse in a minute or two.

He looked around the library once more, filled with words, millions of them. the most dangerous word in Ireland, he decided, inspecting critically a section devoted to theological works, was God. God or [perhaps Nation. On balance, he thought, God had it.

... genteel poverty, eking out the tea leaves for another afternoon, water the only drink in the house apart from the cheap whiskey which her father consumed to ease his sorrows. Even then he diluted it so heavily that the taste of the whiskey was like a noise heard far away, remote and distant as though a visitor was tiptoeing away from your house in the dark.

“No pain, no poem. I’ve never had much to do with the women myself,” he admitted, “too temperamental for me, but I’ve always understood that the one thing they’re good for is a bit of inspiration for the poetry writing classes when the normal things like drink have failed.”

“Too much history, that’s the trouble with Ireland,” said Powerscourt. “Pity you can’t sell bits of it off to some of these new places where they haven’t got any at all.”

AUTHOR Notes:- David Dickinson was born in Dublin. After receiving a first class honours degree in Classics from Cambridge he joined the BBC where he became editor of Newsnight and Panorama as well as being series editor on Monarchy, a three part programme on the current state and future prospects of the British royal family. David now lives in Barnes, South West London, Somerset or France accortding to which source you read!

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