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Nights in White Satin    by Michelle Spring order for
Nights in White Satin
by Michelle Spring
Order:  USA  Can
Fawcett, 2000 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Spring has written a total of five mysteries featuring Cambridge (England) private investigator Laura Principal. The author is Canadian-born but a long time Cambridge resident. She re-creates the ambience with a deft hand, based on many years of experience as a lecturer at Cambridge University. Her books will appeal to the hard-core Anglophiles of the mystery reading community, given the excellent job she does on British settings.

Nights in White Satin is the third in this series about Laura Principal and, as always, it involves a serious social issue. Previous stories focused on immigrant workers and troubled foster children, while this one deals with prostitution. However, the author does not dwell on the issue to the detriment of plot, as some do, and the tone is not overly heavy. In this novel, a university student disappears at the height of the May Ball and Principal is called in to investigate. Subsequently a senior tutor is murdered and the plot thickens.

Spring is one of a group of contemporary British women writers who have created interesting female sleuths. These include Janet Neel, Liza Cody and Frances Fyfield. In this reviewer's mind, Michelle Spring's novels are the best of the group. She handles all three mystery components - plot, character and setting - equally well. Laura Principal is my favorite of all these writers' characters, the most appealing and the one with whom I most like to spend time.

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