During the height of the Second World War, there was little reaction to the death of Vernon Cannon. He was in charge of the island colony of Islandia, had a seat in the War Cabinet, but the world had other concerns. A man under stress had shot himself in his study. And only his daughter, Barbara, believed any different.
Ten years later, and Barbara finds herself in England, the final leg of a global tour and timed perfectly with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. But she encounters the mysterious Desmond Loder, who entrusts her with a secret message, before promptly vanishing in the middle of the ocean. As she comes ashore, Barbara is determined to get to the bottom of Loder’s disappearance, but finds she can bring herself to trust no-one, least of all the charming man who has just introduced himself to her – one Anthony Lotherington Bathurst.
The Mirador Collection – the title refers to the Maguffin of the plot, the treasure trove of the leader of a deposed country – is a very late Brian Flynn title, an era of his writing where often Brian was less concerned with the whodunit element of the mysteries he was writing. A number of the later books eschewed the misdirection games of his early work and concentrated more on “what’s going on” types of mysteries. That’s not to say the whodunit had been abandoned – see “The Wife Who Disappeared” for example – but it wasn’t the focus of his tales in general.
So this was a pleasant surprise. It becomes clear that one of Barbara’s fellow passengers on the way to England is up to something and while the reader has to swallow a fairly massive coincidence or two – what, you thought the death of her father wasn’t going to tie into the tale? – there is a piece of misdirection here that is rather clever.
Bathurst is on good form here, as ever, assisted by Helen Repton, a character from the later titles, a would-be CID officer, and Inspector MacMorran, who’s actually not around much here. There’s a good atmosphere of mystery threaded throughout the tale, and I thought the solution had a similar air to the surprises of his earlier books.
I paid over the odds for this one, as it’s a title that was not in the Flynn family collection, so, should we ever get round to re-issuing the late Flynn titles, I figured we needed to get hold of a copy of it. It’s an odd edition as the DJ has been cut up and the cover glued to the back of the book. The miscreants who did this were Mullens Library in Albury, New South Wales which, in a wonderful coincidence, were based in 621 Dean Street. What a coincidence.
You almost certainly won’t be able to find a copy of this one – sorry – but it’s definitely worth your time. In the meantime, there are ten Brian Flynn titles that are readily available out there which should tide you over for now…
Just The Facts, Ma’am: WHEN – During a trip/vacation