cover image The Ely Testament

The Ely Testament

Philip Gooden. Severn, $28.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8103-8

Set in 1874, Gooden’s competent third whodunit featuring London attorney Tom Ansell (after 2011’s The Durham Deception) takes its time getting to the bloodshed, but intriguing flashbacks to 1645 concerning a murder during the English Civil War maintain the suspense. When Alexander Lye, an elderly partner in the law firm Tom recently joined, dies suddenly at his desk, it appears, ironically, that he may have died intestate. In search of a possible last will and testament left with Ernest Lye, the deceased’s half-brother, Tom sets out for Cambridge, accompanied by his journalist wife, Helen, who has decided to write a magazine article about the nearby cathedral city of Ely. The resolution of the elder Lye’s legacies is complicated by Ernest’s arrest for murder soon after Tom and Helen arrive in Cambridge. Solid prose and appealing characters compensate for a melodramatic twist near the end that dissipates some of the mystery. (Mar.)