Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Rose's Last Summer - Margaret Millar

First published 1976; cover shown is the 1993 Allison & Busby (UK) paperback edition. Cover design and photography by Slatter-Anderson. 245p.

Rose French: faded film star and alcoholic, attention seeker and deserter of husbands. Her final scene was to be found dead next to the Goodfield's lily pond, a battered suitcase by her side.

Rose's abrupt death (the coroner swears it was heart failure; her acquaintances believe it was murder) raises some questions, the biggest being what she was doing on the Goodfield's estate.

The Goodfields consist of a sickly, bedridden mother and Willett and Ethel, her son and daughter-in-law. Another son and a daughter live in nearby San Francisco, where the Goodfield Doll Corporation is situated. It seems impossible for someone like Rose French to be connected to such a wealthy family, but she must be.

Frank Clyde, a mental health counsellor and Rose's only true friend, tentatively investigates the Goodfield family and Rose's own background, which includes five husbands and one daughter - who has recently been reported missing. Meanwhile Captain Greer from the local police stolidly works his own way through the case, frustrated with Clyde's efforts and despising the "idle rich" Goodfields.

This was not my favourite Millar novel, as for the first time I saw the "twist" chapters before I should have. But the characterisation was, as usual, very good, and the writing itself was excellent.

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