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Book Review: The Affair of the Second Goldfish

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Ariadne Oliver serves up another instalment in her Sven Hjerson series.

The figure of the private detective is certainly one that will never fall out of favour with the reading public, and Ms. Oliver is undoubtedly well aware of this. Dedicated followers of Hjerson's exploits will get what they came for, including moments that induce the consultation of an atlas or an encyclopedia to ascertain whether Oloefstroem, which sounds rather Swedish, is indeed located further north, and whether escargots are considered acceptable foodstuff by those of a vegetarian persuasion. We may wish that the author or an editor had taken the clarification of these matters upon themselves, but we must also understand that such details which bther us mere mortals may not be at the forefront of the minds of people whose daily bread is incest, murder and bloodletting. And indeed, on this account, the book satisfies like all its forebears. A well put-together country house crime plot with occasional Gothic overtones and engaging, if sometimes caricatured characters, it is a pleasant summer read. The solution of the mystery may seem contrived, but it is in keeping with the over-the-top tone of the rest of the book. Overall, a nice read for those already familiar with Hjerson - new readers would perhaps be better advised to give one of the earlier titles a go so as not to be overwhelmed.