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Death on the Lizard    by Robin Paige order for
Death on the Lizard
by Robin Paige
Order:  USA  Can
Prime Crime, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

The year is 1903 and Guglielmo Marconi has been feverishly working to perfect what promises to be a world-altering technology: wireless telegraphy. With an innovative communications and research facility located at Lizard, a small village on the farthest reaches of the Cornish coast of southwestern England, Marconi's project has pioneered virtually instant communication between England and America, but the venture is beset with problems. Property has been vandalized, several of Marconi's employees have mysteriously died, and super-secret electronic apparatus has been stolen. But who is responsible for all of the difficulties? Is it one of Marconi's many competitors? Could it be Lizard locals who resent the facility's intrusion upon their isolated peace and quiet? Or perhaps the troubles are being caused by foreign agents eager to undermine Anglo-American technological dominance in a world of rapidly escalating international tensions.

With so much at stake, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company turns to one of Edwardian England's most resourceful amateur forensic detectives (and an avid wireless enthusiast), Charles, Lord Sheridan, who - of course - willingly drops everything and makes plans to travel from his comfortable home in Essex to the troubled Cornish village of Lizard. Meanwhile, in a bit of a coincidence, Lord Sheridan's wife, American-born Kate (a.k.a., Beryl Bardwell, successful author of historical novels) is approached by her friend Patsy Marsden (sister of Bradford Marsden, one of the Marconi company's directors and friend of Lord Sheridan) who prevails upon Kate to join her for a visit to comfort her grieving friend Jenna Loveday (whose small daughter Harriet drowned in an accident three months earlier) in Penhallow, a Cornish community only a few kilometers from Lizard.

When the Sheridans (and the Bardwells) arrive at their destinations, however, the coincidences, problems, mysteries, and dangers begin rapidly to escalate, and both Charles and Kate face some of their most difficult challenges as they confront malicious deceit, inexplicable paranormal phenomena, life-threatening jeopardy, and what may turn out to be either industrial or international espionage.

Death on the Lizard by Robin Paige (pseudonym of the husband-and-wife writing team, Susan Wittig Albert and Bill Albert) is the twelfth in a series of entertaining and popular Victorian/Edwardian mysteries. Filled with tidbits from Cornish history and folklore, and embellished with plenty of details about the early 20th century development of wireless telegraphy, Death of the Lizard is a distinctive and effective blend of history and mystery. Nicely plotted and overflowing with intriguing characters, this recommended Edwardian mystery provides plenty of atmosphere and enjoyment.

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