Death's Prelude (Detective Heath Barrington Mystery Series #5)

Death's Prelude (Detective Heath Barrington Mystery Series #5) 
Author: David S. Pederson 
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books 
Release Date: February 9, 2021 
Genre(s): Historical Murder / Mystery 
Page Count: 221 
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 

This is the fifth book in the series, but it is a prequel to the entire series, featuring a young Heath Barrington, newly graduated from college in 1937, and on a cruise across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary with his aunt Verbina. 

The pace of this book is somewhat elegaic, but I enjoyed learning about life aboard the Queen Mary on her inaugural cruise, complete with details about the layout of the boat, the dinner menus, and a glimpse of a time long past when men and women wore their finest for an elegant and refined ocean voyage. 

Health meets the enigmatic Lord Simon Quimby aboard and is immediately transfixed by his elegance and good looks, as well as the supposed deadly Quimby family curse. Heath has his first sexual experience with Simon, and with the naivety of youth, envisions a future with Simon. But Simon feels trapped in his circumstances - the unwilling heir to an estate that badly needs an infusion of cash, in the form of a marriage to one Ruth St. James, of the Philadelphia St. James'. 

There is a murder / mystery here, with Heath solving the mystery behind the Quimby family curse, and realizing that he wants a career as a police detective. 

Where the book really excels is in its setting of both the Queen Mary and society in pre-WWII Europe. We really get a sense of the dilemma Simon faces - to marry and save his family legacy, or fully embrace who he is and try to find his niche.  

The only thing that didn't work for me here was Heath starting out the book as a slang spouting college boy and ending as a wise sage advising Lord Quimy about his life choices.  There isn't enough character development along the way to make this sudden "adulting" flow seamlessly.  However, overall, I enjoyed the book immensely and give it a sold 4 stars.

I received an ARC from the Publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

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