cover image Death Has Deep Roots

Death Has Deep Roots

Michael Gilbert. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9953-8

In this entry in the British Library Crime Classics series, first published in 1951, Gilbert (1912–2006) does a masterly job of blending whodunit, courtroom drama, and thriller. Victoria Lamartine, a Frenchwoman living in London a few years after WWII, has been charged with stabbing Maj. Eric Thoseby to death in his room. During the war, Thoseby worked as a British agent in the same part of France where Lamartine ran errands for the Resistance. The prosecution believes that Lamartine was motivated by hatred of the victim, who fathered her child and then abandoned them both. On the eve of her trial, she switches attorneys and enlists Noel Anthony Pontarlier Rumbold to defend her, asserting not only her innocence but that Thoseby was not the father of her now-dead son. Rumbold’s efforts on her behalf, which take him across the Channel to investigate, expose him to danger, even as skilled barrister Hargest Macrea uses his superior cross-examination skills to raise doubts about the government’s case. Readers who like their detection balanced by action will be more than satisfied. [em](Nov.) [/em]