A Fête Worse Than Death (Jack Haldean, Book 1) by Dolores Gordon-Smith

By Dolores Gordon-Smith

It's 1922 and Jack Haldean, younger crime author and previous Royal Flying Corps pilot, is having fun with the neighborhood fete on a stunning summer's day in rural Sussex. yet then Jack's fellow officer, Jeremy Boscombe, is located useless within the fortune teller's tent and later an analogous day Boscombe's shady pal, Reggie Morton, is murdered within the village pub. Jack's look for the reality will lead him again to the conflict of the Somme and an act of poor betrayal.

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He remembered having once seen a newsreel of Edward VII coming out of the house at Sandringham before a shooting party. Chaplin walked ahead of the invisible retainers, froze his stance and very slowly raised his elbows in a position to receive his cape. He never looked behind him but gazed confidently out to the horizon, slumped his shoulders as the cape descended, gave a heavy grunt and—for all Chaplin’s tiny gymnastic form—was the huge patrician buffalo to the life. After that, there was no need for moralising tags about the arrogance of empire, the absolute assumption of hereditary superiority to the human clay that cooks the meals, beats the bushes, mines the coal.

To foster a little desperate verisimilitude, the camera pans over the assembled company, and you get a glimpse of an Orson Welles bulk addressed as ‘M. Balzac,’ a passing remark addressed to a dandy with whiskers (‘Tell me, Mr Dickens’), a French lieutenant deferring to a fellow called Bismarck (no matter whether the Iron Chancellor had ever been in Paris or not). They are all hushed into reverence by the arrival of Merle Oberon in a tuxedo, for although the casual spectator may have thought of this as the Age of Revolution or the Reform Acts he is meant to realise that the whole world swooned at the appearance anywhere of George Sand.

A famous one will suffice to show what agonies of sweat and tension could go into the distillation of a scene which in the playing seemed as effortless as quicksilver. ‘I began,’ he said, ‘with a hazy idea of a blind flower girl sitting on the sidewalk. She is going to be the heroine. And this is the first time the little fellow meets her. She must sell him a flower, and she must mistake him for a rich man. ’ He gave this simple run-down to his assistant, who drafted some sequences that conveyed the general idea.

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