I’ve discovered that you can sell me just about any cosy mystery that features a large Victorian house on the front cover. This one (unlike many, many others) was absolutely worth buying and reading. I loved it, largely because it was geared exactly towards my interests: Gothic novels and drug smuggling. No, kidding: just the Gothic novels.

dark-and-stormy-murder

Title: A Dark and Stormy Murder

Author: Julia Buckley

Series: Writer’s Apprentice

Sleuth: Lena London, assistant to author Camilla Graham (who also does some of the detecting).

Setting: Camilla’s huge, secret-passage-containing house on the shore of Blue Lake, Indiana. The house is straight out of innumerable Gothic novels (or Old Dark House movies), and is perfect.

Animal: Lena has a cat named Lestrade, and Camilla owns two German Shepherds, Heathcliff and Rochester.

The elderly author in this book, Camilla Graham, writes the literate, far-flung Gothic novels that were all the rage in the sixties. Hers, I gather, are meant to be from the literary end of the Gothic spectrum (think Phyllis A. Whitney and Mary Stewart), rather than the trashier “there are devil worshippers in my bedsit” kind (although those are still amazing and I love them).

So the backdrop to this book is an author-worshipping book lover getting her dream job as an assistant to her favourite author, who turns out to be sensible and smart. And the foreground is a major mystery (involving what looks like murder, and turns out to be kidnapping) that won’t get solved until later in the series, and a minor mystery surrounding the sort of sordid drugs-and-murder crime that happens in real life all the time.