Political Death

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Jemima Shore plans to interview reputedly “batty” Lady Imogen Swain on aging for her television program, JEMIMA SHORE INVESTIGATES, but Lady Imogen wants a tell-all segment about a past love affair with respected British Foreign Secretary Burgo Smyth, currently up for reelection. Lady Imogen has love letters and diaries supporting her claim, and revealing incriminating facts about the mysterious disappearance of journalist Franklyn Faber thirty years ago.

The children of Burgo Smyth, Archie and Sarah, both candidates in the upcoming election, and Lady Imogen’s children, actress Millie Swain and Olga Carter-Fox, wife of Conservative MP Harry Carter-Fox (also a candidate), all have much at stake if a scandal erupts.

At the end of her interview, Lady Imogen tries to give Shore all her personal papers, but Shore takes only one diary, in which she later finds information that could lead to political disaster for the families.

The sudden “suicide” of Lady Imogen stirs the plot and when her other diaries and love letters are stolen, everyone involved appears to be both a suspect and a victim.

Signs also point to Millie’s current costar and lover, Randall Birley, and while Shore investigates, she becomes attracted to this egotistical Lothario and must use all her wits to sort out the sad, sordid details of unrequited love, political maneuverings, and murder.

POLITICAL DEATH is a complex mystery—more complex than mysterious. It is not for those who seek a “nail-biter.” Suspense builds only late in the book, and the writing is staid. Probably better known in America for her historical novels, Antonia Fraser has written eight previous works featuring Jemima Shore.