An Indecent Death a Compelling Read
Book Review of An Indecent Death
An Indecent Death is a classic whodunnit murder mystery written by David Anderson. It features Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm, a slightly crusty murder investigator who probably wisely gave up a career in education for police work.
I say probably wisely because one of Anderson's techniques to endear us to Drumm's character is his frequent Freudian slips that his fellow detectives notice, but to which he seems to be oblivious. Students would either assume he is a goof ball or an idiot, neither of which is particularly true. Here is an illustration of this from the book:
"Let’s meet at The Pig and Whistle at five and we’ll compare notes.” The Pig and Whistle was a pub, actually called The Cat and the Fiddle, but Drumm could never remember its real name.
Drumm and his colleagues, whom he erroneously calls Smith and Wesson, (Wesson is correct - Detective Karl Wesson – but Smith is actually Detective Lori Singh), are investigating the death of a 7th grade teacher Paula Noonan. As the story unfolds, we discover that many of her colleagues and acquaintances have the incentive, the means, and the opportunity to kill her. The list is led by her estranged husband, a creepy janitor, and a parent who thinks she is unjustly harsh on his daughter.
I read this book to my 13 year-old son, which may have been a mistake, because there are racier aspects of the book that I had to edit on the fly. We discover that Ms. Noonan loves sex, and engages in it regularly, with many different men. Each of these men is investigated thoroughly after an elderly couple and their dog find the body of Ms. Noonan in a shallow grave in a park.
Ironically, one of the racier scenes in the book has nothing to do with Paula Noonan's active sex life, but involves one of the subplots. Drumm has been approached by his former girl friend who has designs to reconnect with him, claiming she has changed enough to give them a second chance. To illustrate the kind of content some may find objectionable, I will paste this scene between Drumm and Emily.
Drumm took her hands in his and started pulling her gently to him. She accommodated him, lifting herself a little so that she slid slowly towards him across the blanket, her legs moving outwards around his. Her dress moved up her legs, above her knees and up her thighs. Drumm stopped pulling when she was right up next to him and he kissed her. She tasted of alcohol and something sweet. She kissed him back, slowly and passionately. His hands went to her breasts, her arms went around his neck. He started undoing the buttons on her dress, expecting a rebuke. It didn’t come, although she broke off the kiss. Emily unknotted his tie and took it off, started undoing the buttons of his shirt.
“I want to feel your skin against mine, Nicky.” She got his shirt off, although he had to squirm a bit to make it happen, and tossed it away. “Yes, undo me, but leave the dress on, in case someone comes.” She started working on his pants.
Drumm’s hands went back to her and he undid another couple of buttons, enough to push the dress off her shoulders and expose her small breasts.“Here, Emily? Are you sure?” She had picked this spot, chosen this dress, of course she was sure, but he needed to ask.
“I’m sure, Nicky.” She had his pants undone now and pushed them and his underwear down his legs. He helped by lifting up and his erection sprang into the open. “Oh, my, you’re ready, aren’t you?”Emily wriggled and pulled her dress up. She wasn’t wearing panties.
“Oh, Lord.” Drumm pulled her onto him, and she moaned and they started rocking back and forth. He took the dress right off her shoulders so that it bunched around her waist and squeezed her breasts as she continued to move on top of him. Drumm’s mouth found hers and he pulled her even tighter to him. God help them if anyone came by now. Drumm started nipping at her neck but she started making noises and he was worried someone would hear her, so he crushed her mouth against his again. She was bucking frantically now and he was losing control, losing it…Unbelievably, they came together, the scent of lilacs all around them.
Emily giggled, a little shakily. “Wow! I guess we needed that.”
Drumm was drained. “Emily, you are fabulous. That was so good.” He kissed her lightly. “You planned for this, didn’t you?”
“Didn’t you, Nicky?” She cupped his face and kissed him, then pulled up her dress and started doing up the buttons.
“Sort of. Yup.” He grinned. “I was hoping, shall we say? I’ve been thinking about making love to you for days, ever since Luigi’s. But this was special.”
They disengaged and got their clothing back in order, then tidied up the picnic debris.
“So, are we back together, Nicky? Because I want us to be.”
Drumm smiled and took her hand. “As you wish.”
I enjoyed this book immensely. The story was compelling, and Anderson did an excellent job of tying up myriad loose ends into a neat package. My guess is that this is not the last time we will hear from Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm, in part because no sooner than he wraps up this case than the phone rings from his C.O. Mark Chappell, no doubt telling Drumm of his next case.
No book is perfect, but the imperfections here were minor. As I was given a proof copy to review, it is possible Anderson may have cleaned up the typographical errors I noted in the text before the final version went to press. I would give An Indecent Death by David Anderson 4.5 stars out of 5.
An Indecent Death is presently only available in electronic format, so if you have a Kindle or a Kindle App, you're good to go.