Rated: B+ Enjoyable ... I'd recommend it
Opening sentence "...In the darkened cinema, Hazel Whitby's fingers transmuted into an unctuous bejewelled spider, Jungle Red fingernail's covertly testing the chocolates for hard or soft centres..."
BLOODY HAM is the third book in a mystery series that follows the adventures of ex-pat Australian Belinda Lawrence. Pressured to make a commitment by her gorgeous boyfriend Mark, Belinda flies to visit her family in Australia to give the relationship serious thought. Here she meets up with an old friend. Brad seems to be everything Mark is not and Belinda returns to England in a state of emotional confusion. She is immediately plunged into another adventure.
Hazel, Belinda's business partner and best friend, runs an antique business. A film company is filming a historical movie at the nearby Ham House and have hired some of Hazel's antique silver for the banquet scene. The vampy Hazel has collected yet another younger man, Tim, to console herself after being rejected by her ex-husband for a younger woman. Tim is a film editor for the movie. Belinda and Hazel are invited to the set while the banqueting scenes are filmed - both are shocked to witness the death of the leading lady. A new actress takes over the part within days and filming proceeds. Belinda is asked to be the stand-in for the new actress, which she accepts because it will give her a chance to snoop and solve the murder. A second murder quickly follows and this time Belinda is a suspect as her fingerprints are all over the murder weapon.
I adore Belinda. She is a strong and independent character in total control of herself. She is in charge of her romantic life, and does not bat an eyelid when Brad turns up in England and she has dinner with him and her English beau, Mark. Since her first appearance in CAPABLE OF MURDER Belinda has grown as a character. Growth is good. Hazel has also changed; at the end of this book she is questioning the way she lives her life. She is questioning just who she is hurting by her love 'em and leave em attitude? Author Brian Kavanagh doesn't dwell on the relationship issues of the two women. The issues are there, but the emphasis is on solving the mystery. In this wonderful story twists, turns, suspects, ghosts, romance, and red herrings abound before a satisfactory conclusion.
Kavanagh has many years' experience in the Australian Film Industry in the areas of production, direction, editing and writing. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Australian Film Editors Guild. One of the rules drummed into you at writing school is to write about what you know. Kavanagh knows the film industry, and BLOODY HAM is an authoritive, and humorous, peep behind the scenes. I have heard a whisper that Brian Kavanagh is working on a yet to be titled fourth Belinda Lawrence story, to be set in Australia. Let us hope we don't have to wait too long for it.