A Pigeon Among the Cats (Josephine Bell)

  • By Josephine Bell
  • First published: UK: Hodder & Stoughton, 1974; US: Stein & Day, 1977

Bell’s attempt at a Eurocaper story, setting professional crooks against picturesque tourist destinations. Retired schoolmistress Rose Lawler goes on a coach tour of Italy; the other passengers include a juvenile delinquent and a dubious (probably criminal) woman who claims to have run away from her husband; the tour is followed both by a well-spoken criminal who reminds Rose of her dead husband, and by American gangsters.

Somehow, I’d expected a proper mystery, with deaths in the Uffizi and the Tower of Pisa; instead, there are no murders until the last couple of chapters, and no detection. There’s nothing to get one’s teeth into.

A good coach tour mystery still waits to be written. Bell’s earlier effort, Adventure with Crime (1962), is apparently dull (see Dead Yesterday’s review). For other attempts, see Gladys Mitchell‘s The Devil’s Elbow (1951) and Noonday and Night (1977), and Agatha Christie‘s Nemesis.

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