14 June 2010
Review: BLOODY HAM, Brian Kavanagh
published by Bewrite Books 2007
paperback ISBN: 978-1-905202-53-9
ebook ISBN: 978-1-905202-54-6
I read this on my Kindle courtesy of a digital copy kindly given to me by the author.
Lights! Camera! Action! . Murder! A rollicking puzzle and a turmoil of personal relationships, some happy, some doomed, some downright evil. The third adventure for Belinda and Hazel continuing the pace and humour that readers have come to acknowledge and appreciate. Excitement and tension begin on the first day of filming a Restoration drama on location at the historic Jacobean mansion, Ham House in Surrey when one of the leading players collapses and dies. With the death ruled non-accidental the director, producer and members of the cast are all suspects. An award winning Hollywood star is brought in to replace the dead actor and Belinda is employed as her stand-in. When another member of the crew is found stabbed to death, Belinda is forced to prove her innocence. In all this tumult, Belinda finds herself torn between her long-time English lover, Mark and the energetic and exuberant Australian, Brad she met again on a trip to Australia.
This novel gives Australian author Brian Kavanagh an opportunity to parade both his knowledge of and extensive experience in the film industry and his delight in English history.
His central characters Australian Belinda Lawrence and local woman Hazel Whitby are well created and very believable. Belinda and Hazel are working in partnership: Hazel runs an antique shop in Bath, and provides Belinda with furniture in her heritage listed house and garden. Their business is commissioned to provide authentic cutlery for the feature film being made at Ham House. Hazel's latest "young man" is a film editor about to begin work on the Ham House film. He's an Australian who has not visited the West country before and Hazel has been showing him the sights. Belinda, on the other hand, has recently been home to Australia and has just returned, and is feeling a bit ambivalent about her lover Mark. Belinda bears a passing resemblance to one of the stars of the film and is invited to be a stand-in.
The plot of BLOODY HAM is well developed: there are a number of connected deaths before it comes to its conclusion, and a cast of interesting characters. Like earlier novels in the series this novel is really a "cosy".
I liked the way Kavanagh added a few Australian characters to this novel, and the way he played with their language and characteristics.
My rating: 4.2
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Reactions to Reading: Bloody Ham offers an entertaining combination of an old-fashioned whodunit with characters who are fun to meet.