The Durham Deception: A CathedralMystery by Philip Gooden Reviewed by Teri Davis Sometimes the only way to stop a family member from doing something possibly stupid is by an intervention from a family member, even in nineteenth century England. That is the situation for newlywed Helen Ansell and her husband, Tom. Helen’s aunt, Julia, lives in Durham, away from the rest of thefamily in London. Julia, although never married, managed to make manyfortunate investments in her younger days, and now money is not a concern.Julia is fascinated by an older gentleman who is a medium for those dearlydeparted from their loved ones. Can Helen stop her spinster aunt frommarrying this fraud?Conveniently, Tom has also been sent to Durham on an assignment as a younglawyer. He is to meet with the stage magician, Major Sebastian Marmont whowants an affidavit verifying his ownership of an unusual and valuable weapon,the Lucknow Dagger. Both Helen and Tom are pleased when their purposescoincide.This was a logical and intricate mystery that was not predictable but was easyto follow. Especially outstanding were the references to life in the 1800s suchas working with the gaslights. This allowed a true picture into the daily life ofthis time period.The story is a well-written page turner. The characters are believable and thereferences within the setting were true to the time period. The mystery is fast –paced while still being plausible. Added to that are the intricate detailsimportant which support the setting.
Being The Durham Deception is the second book of Philip Gooden’s Cathedralseries, many readers might be hesitant because many important elements incharacter development and relationships are only in a first novels. Thisparticular novel is easy to understand without having read the first one.Philip Gooden has written two separate mystery series. So far, he has six novelsin the Shakespearean Murder Mystery series, and two in this Cathedral series.Originally The Durham Deception was published in England in 2008 as TheDurham Disappearance. He has also written The Mammoth Book of LiteraryAnecdotes, The Open Door: and other Ghost Stories, Faux Pas, Who’s Whose?,Name Dropping: A No-Nonsense Guide to the Use of Names in EverydayLanguage, and The Story of English: How the English Language Conquered theWorld.The Durham Deception is a delightful quick mystery. Personally, I plan to readother novels by this British novelist.