A Detective at Death’s Door

A Detective at Death’s Door is the first book by H R F Keating that I’ve read. I was expecting it to be good because Keating, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature  is a winner of the Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Awards. From the information in the book I see that his most famous novels are the Inspector Ghote books. A Detective at Death’s Door is the fifth Harriet Martens novel. For more information about Keating see this article by Martin Edwards.

Source: borrowed from the library.

From H R F Keating’s website:

A Detective at Death’s Door (2004)

ISBN: 1405048069

In her most traumatic case yet, Harriet Martens finds herself placed in grave danger at the hands of a deft and cunning poisoner. Whilst relaxing with her husband at the Majestic pool one hot August Bank Holiday, Harriet does not expect the refreshing glass of Campari soda at her side to conceal a deadly drug. When she awakes from a doze she is no longer by the water, but in a hospital bed recovering from a near fatal dose of Aconitine. As Harriet makes her slow recovery, she tries to come to terms with the terrible fact that someone wanted to kill her. Even more difficult for her to face is the knowledge that she must find the person responsible, if anything for her own peace of mind. But no sooner has she mustered enough energy to begin making tentative enquiries and initial investigations, than the poisoner strikes again. And this time he is successful€¦ Will Harriet have the strength of mind and body to find the murderer before he finds another victim and before the local population begin to panic?

I suspect that this is not one of Keating’s better books. The pace was slow as Harriet regains her strength and tries to get involved in the police investigations, against her doctor’s advice and her husband’s wishes. It was repetitive as one by one more deaths occur with little build up of tension.  Harriet is known as the ‘Hard Detective’ but for most of this book she  is in ‘a state of fluffy confusion‘. Still, I liked it enough to borrow One Man and His Bomb, the sixth Harriet Martens book, from the library last week.

3 thoughts on “A Detective at Death’s Door

  1. Margaret – Thanks for this fine review. I’ve read some of Keeting’s Inpector Ghote novels, but never one of the Harriet Martens books. I can understand how the slow pace might make one hesitate to heartily recommend a book, but I’m glad you liked this one well enough to try another. You’ve reminded me, too, that I’ve meant to try a Harriet Martens book. I shall have to do that…


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