Fourth in the Heron Carvic’s Miss Seeton mystery series set in 1960s England.
Having some idea of what to expect from Miss Seeton’s wake, I was thoroughly prepared to enjoy myself as MissEss swans about Europe…totally unknowing of the actions unfolding in her wake.
I did enjoy Haley’s cant:
This could be the chummie…let’s have a dekko at her; probably the cod’s ma or auntie. …The cod’d had what looked like a bit of a barge-in with the city type. Anyway the cit’d sheared off and the cod’d scarpered, so he couldn’t be the chummie unless…”
I do love how everyone misinterprets Miss Seeton’s innocence as a very knowing cover for her sweet, little old lady appearance. She’s a point-and-shoot and with everyone trailing along after her, it’s no wonder that the bad guys just fall by the waysides…or in the pit! Oh lord, then there’s her “French”: “Je suis so sorry” and “…je suis afraid la porte est locked”. She can come across as such a befuddled sweetie and does so right in her sense of justice and truth.
And Scotland Yard is right…Miss Seeton simply notices everything around her: Mr. Mantoni’s tie and his humming, the briefcase, features that no one can disguise from an artist.
It’s a bit Keystone Kops as the bad guys are foiled again and again. The assassination attempts. The misconceptions on the part of the criminals, the police, the bankers, the spies. Such a lovely conversation about art at the exhibition which reveals another sort of undercover about the Duke of Belton’s missing artwork and introduces Miss Seeton to a very useful lady, Mme de Brillot. That jewel theft just seems downright common after everything else…
Oh lord, and then Delphick’s vision of MissEss in ostrich plumes, hat, handbang and umbrella at the Folies Bergere! Wait’ll he gets a load of her inspiration for a new nudie show in Paris! “Left luggage” will forever after carry a slightly different connotation for me, from now on. Urk…!
Oh, no…only Aunt Em could come home “…clutching a dish with the joint already on it and…serve it up to customs.”
Miss Seeton has been seconded by the Foreign Office to investigate counterfeit pounds being deposited at the Banque du Lac in Geneva, Switzerland. The action truly starts at Heathrow when Miss Seeton awaits her plane with Mantoni at the same table absorbing his psyche, compounding his paranoia, and being recognized by an undercover copper.
When Delphick finds out, he’s blown away. Miss Seeton? Discreet? Better check to see if she has her brolly with her…she’s a right menace with that weapon of mass destruction! Let alone she’s a well-meaning but naive old lady who’s never been out of the country!
It seems someone is depositing large quantities of forged notes at the Banque du Lac and M. Telmark as well as the Bank of England are very concerned. London believes MissEss’ talent of setting criminals off could be most useful; her reputation has become rather visible and her sudden switch to the flight to Genoa, Italy sets Tolla’s doom in motion.
And, really, it is Mr. Penrood’s fault for abandoning MissEss at the airport.
Miss Emily Seeton, a.k.a., MissEss due to a computer error at New Scotland Yard, is on retainer with the police drawing her psychic IdentiKits. She has retired from teaching and now lives at her cottage Sweetbriars in Plummergen, Kent. When she isn’t jaunting about the continent.
Superintendent Delphick, a.k.a., the Oracle, and his Detective Sergeant Bob Ranger are both with Scotland Yard. Yes, Ranger is still seeing Anne, Dr. Knight‘s daughter. Detective Constable Haley from the Fraud division; Commander Conway and Inspector Borden are also with Fraud. Assistant Commissioner Hubert Everleigh has become a believer.
Lord Gatwood is the governor of the Bank of England; Jonathan Feldman is his second-in-command. Mr. Fenn is the head of Special Branch. Mr. Estevel, with the Treasury, seems to have been involved in some dodgy doings. Mr. Oblon from the FO is quite upset by Miss Seeton’s complete irresponsibility: getting in car crashes, drinking, singing in a public trattoria! Heavens.
Miss Vanda Galam just happens to, somewhat pushily, befriend Miss Seeton. Good thing! Mme Mélie de Brillot has quite a few skills hidden behind her very cosmopolitan façade.
M. Karl Telmark is the head of the Banque du Lac based in Geneva, Switzerland. Heracles Stemkos is a shipping millionaire with a naughty wife, Natalie Stemkos, engaged in hanky-panky with his secretary, Anatole Librecksin. Mousha is Stemkos’ director of personnel. On the outside. She ends up enjoying a lovely shopping spree with Miss Seeton.
Elio Mantoni, a.k.a., Alberti, is a smalltime forger who fancies himself as a painter. And his fate is set once Miss Seeton comes near. Xerxes Tolla leads this little band of crooks using his diplomatic cover as insurance. Thrudd Banner is a reporter who has received a tip that hanging about Miss Seeton can pay off in spades. Thomas ffloey seems a bit of a young has-been and works at the consulate.
Lilianne is Librecksin’s French mistress. Cyril and Cecil are the Les Cyrcil twins, English, and a pair of actors at the Casino de Paris who know a good thing when they haul her out of her onstage coffin.
The inhabitants of Plummergen receive a brief mention in this installment.
It’s Rimmsky-Korsakov’s Star of India that Miss Seeton Sings, or, rather, hums and completely throws the bad guys off their stride!