Jeanne M. Dams
reviewed by Gail Byrd
When you are in the mood for an easy relaxing mystery with no murder, though not for lack of trying, consider The Bath Conspiracy by Jeanne M. Dams. This is the 24th book in her long-running Dorothy Martin Mystery series featuring ex-pat Dorothy Martin who has now married former chief constable Alan Nesbit.
Over the course of the series Dorothy and Alan have had numerous adventures, some of the more harrowing kind. For this book, Dams settles back into a kinder, gentler type of mystery that provides them with quite a puzzle, but no dead bodies. While there is an attempt on Dorothy’s life and on the life of two other characters in the book, none of them are successful, nor are they written about in any great detail. Rather, the emphasis is placed on the puzzle Dorothy and Alan are working to solve, along with the police.
For Dorothy’s birthday, Alan has taken her for a holiday to the famous city of Bath, England. They plan to do some sightseeing, have Dorothy indulge in some souvenir shopping, visit the cathedral in Bath and the famous site of Stonehenge, then return home. Their plans get turned upside down on the second day of their trip during a trip to Stonehenge. After visiting the stones, Dorothy has indulged in one of her favorite activities, namely souvenir shopping. Loaded down with packages she and Alan prepare to load them into the trunk, or boot as they say in England, of her car. When they open it up, they discover it is already filled with an odd assortment of things ranging from cheap souvenirs worth almost nothing, to a chunk of stone from the quarry where historians believe the stones for Stonehenge were mined. Nothing makes sense, leastwise how they came to be in Dorothy and Alan’s car.
Alan calls in the police and insists their fingerprints be taken immediately which he knows will rule them out as suspects in the thefts. The next day, Dorothy and Alan decide to take a driving tour only to be told their car is unavailable. The hotel provides them with a limousine, and they drop by the garage where the car is being housed and discover someone has damaged the lock trying to pry the trunk open. The police are called again, and Alan begins to insist they be allowed to assist in the investigation since it was their car that was involved. He leans heavily on his experience as a retired chief constable and pushes the police in charge to accept his and Dorothy’s help in solving the mystery of what is happening in Bath.
As Alan and Dorothy begin their investigation, the young man who was chauffeuring them in the hotel limousine is the victim of a hit and run accident that appears to be an attempted murder. Not long after that there is an attempt on another citizen who has become high on Alan and Dorothy’s list as being involved in the thefts. After these two attempts, Alan is determined to stick close to Dorothy, although there is an unsuccessful attempt to lure Dorothy away from their lodgings alone. All these attempts serve to increase Alan and Dorothy’s determination to get to the bottom of things.
As Dorothy and Alan continue to investigate, they also become more acquainted with various people who have some form of connection to what is happening in Bath which provides an entertaining character study for several of the residents. Dorothy and Alan have also developed a warm, comfortable relationship with each other which shines through the story and contributes to the warm, welcoming story of their investigation.
It isn’t difficult to follow the story, nor to figure out the identity of the guilty parties. Still, it is enjoyable to relax and spend some time in Bath and explore some of the famous sites along with Alan and Dorothy. The Bath Conspiracy is an excellent choice for any reader who may have been reading a few too many edgy mysteries or otherwise is looking to find an entertaining read that will provide them with both a sense of calm and some diversion. It’s a great choice to have as a beach or travel read or to provide some relaxation and retreat from the stresses of the day.
I would like to thank Canongate Books, Severn House Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.