Overview

Murder pays no respect to rank...or the neighborhood. And so it happened that young aristocrat Timothy Wycliffe was bludgeoned to death in his elegantly furnished flat in Belgravia by a person or persons unknown. Unknown, in fact, for 30 years.

Then the dead man's friend Peter Proctor ? once a young man on his way up in the diplomatic service, now a retired Member of Parliament ? seeks an antidote to boredom by attempting to write his own memoirs. Unfortunately, they seem to be ...

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A Scandal in Belgravia

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Overview

Murder pays no respect to rank...or the neighborhood. And so it happened that young aristocrat Timothy Wycliffe was bludgeoned to death in his elegantly furnished flat in Belgravia by a person or persons unknown. Unknown, in fact, for 30 years.

Then the dead man's friend Peter Proctor — once a young man on his way up in the diplomatic service, now a retired Member of Parliament — seeks an antidote to boredom by attempting to write his own memoirs. Unfortunately, they seem to be creating more problems than he anticipated, and not just of the writer's-block variety. Peter keeps getting sidetracked by speculations on Timothy's death. The murder was allegedly accomplished by a beating from one of his boyfriends. But Peter can't accept so simple a solution, so he begins to probe the past. In so doing, he opens a fascinating window on British society during the 1950s and its changing — and unchanging — mores since.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Barnard's elegant 24th mystery after A City of Strangers finds him at his delightfully waspish best. Targets include the House of Lords many members give ``the impression of long disuse'', political memoirs ``politicians in general have an affinity for fiction'' and Mrs. Thatcher named as source of the quote ``the Good Samaritan had to have money''. The amiable narrator is statesman/industrialist Peter Proctor, sacked by Thatcher and now fretting about his memoirs, especially the mystery surrounding the long-ago murder of Timothy Wycliffe, his friend and sharer of the bottom rung in the Foreign Office in the '50s. Witty, imaginative, dazzling Timothy was battered to death in his flat in Belgravia near Buckingham Palace in 1956. The chief suspect, Andrew Forbes, a workingman believed to have been one of Timothy's many male lovers, skipped the country. What otherwise would have been a scandal was smothered by the Suez crisis. Peter, bothered that the murder had so little impact on him, now determines to investigate. Interviews take him as far as California to Forbes, who persuades him of his innocence. Then back to England and a confrontation with a truly evil monster who reveals why Timothy had to die. Barnard brilliantly depicts a seedy, struggling London in the '50s, the Suez fiasco as a symbol of the death of empire and Timothy's murder as a symbol of a wholly different social climate. Aug.
Library Journal
While writing his memoirs, ex-cabinet minister Peter Proctor questions the 35-year-old unsolved murder of Timothy Wycliffe, his good friend and colleague in the Foreign Office. Soon diverted by fond memories of this engaging and fully alive fellow--who happened to be gay--he researches the murder, questions Timothy's friends, family, and lovers, finally reconstructs the murder, and confronts the murderer. Barnard once again shows a masterful grasp of character and plot, immerses the reader in serious political and social atmosphere, and then throws a last hook shot. Great stuff.
Kirkus Reviews
Ever-versatile Barnard (A City of Strangers, etc.) gives us a low-keyed story told by wryly self-deprecating widower and ex- cabinet minister Peter Proctor, now retired and writing memoirs that even he finds boring—until his memory of Timothy Wycliffe is revived. Timothy, son of a prominent politician, was a brilliant charmer, a promiscuous, not very closeted homosexual at a time when that could mean a jail sentence in England. He and Proctor were friends, not lovers, and worked together at the Foreign Office. Then, 30 years ago, at the height of the Suez crisis, Timothy was murdered—according to the police, by his Scottish pal Andrew Forbes, who took off for Spain and was never tried. Here, Proctor is haunted by a feeling that Forbes may have been innocent and sets out to find the truth. The search takes him to Forbes's sister, to Los Angeles, where his own son and grandson live, and finally to Wycliffe's aristocratic family and his still-living father. What he discovers is a shocker—and there's another yet to come. The reader may doubt the ability of Proctor and other characters to recall in detail 30-year-old conversations and events, but Proctor's story is quietly engrossing all the way to its jolting conclusion.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476737300
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 4/9/2013
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 412,117
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Robert Barnard (1936-2013) was awarded the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Nero Wolfe Award, as well as the Agatha and Macavity awards. An eight-time Edgar nominee, he was a member of Britain's distinguished Detection Club, and, in May 2003, he received the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement in mystery writing. His most recent novel, Charitable Body, was published by Scribner in 2012.
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