Book review

The Secret of the Crocodiles by Karen Wallace (2005)

Lady Violet's Casebook

You'll have to sail up the Nile from Cairo to Luxor if you want to join Lady Violet Winters while she solves this particular little secret of the crocodiles.

She's spending Christmas in Egypt with her father, Lord Percy, and her mother, Lady Eleanor. Her main ally is her father's American ward, Garth. But she also gets a little discreet help from her governess, the unenviably named Madame Poisson:

Violet smiled to herself. Madame Poisson was the perfect governess. She was always either indisposed or asleep. Violet called her her 'dear codfish' because she looked just like one. Amelie Poisson had silver-grey skin, a full lower lip and the popping-out eyes of a codfish. They even had whiskers in common!

It all begins with the odious Count Kapolski. Or pehaps I should odorous. The Count uses geranium-scented hair oil, which is obviously enough to convict the man alone. But he is also a big-game hunter, or so he says:

Violet stared into the almost colourless eyes of a blond-haired man. She had taken an instant dislike to him at the beginning of the voyage, though she couldn't explain why. It was more of an instinctive reaction. His manners were impeccable, but there was a coldness about him that made it seem as if he was only playing a part.

Still, Lady Violet is enjoying her trip to Cairo, in the company of Garth and a friend of the family, Nicholas Etherington. There's a great deal to enjoy; trips to the covered bazaar, camel rides, visits to the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, although her heart is won by a cheeky monkey:

Violet wondered if this was what was called love at first sight. The monkey was the size of a small toy teddy bear, with brown stripes down his cheeks and big, bright eyes. His fur was dark on his back and light on his stomach. Fixed into his ear was a small turquoise stud.

Actually, I'm not sure Lady Violet would have solved any secrets if it weren't for the fact that Nicholas disappears suddenly in mysterious circumstances, and the dreadful Count reappears...

She's smart, Lady Violet, she can sort this little matter out in the twinkling of an eye. Read it for yourself and see. An enjoyable bit of a romp in historical costume with lots of modern day attitude.

What can I read next?

If you enjoy this little mystery, you're in luck because more are planned in the series. Watch out for:

  • The Man with Tiger Eyes

If you fancy another mystery set against a historical background you might like to look at this one by V A Richardson:

Or this interesting little series by Chris Priestley:

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