In the Shadow of King’s by Nora Kelly (St. Martin’s Press, 1984) is the first of five mysteries featuring Vancouver academic Gillian Adams and her long-distance lover Edward Gisborne of Scotland Yard. In this debut Gillian returns to the University of Cambridge where she received her doctoral degree. She is elated to be back and is in awe of the timelessness of the place. Whole sections of description of the University are strongly reminiscent of Edmund Crispin’s Gervase Fen stories, although they took place at Oxford.
The university has invited her to present her latest scholarly article to the academic community. Alistair Greenwood, Professor of Modern History at Cambridge and a well-known authority, invites her to lunch the day before her presentation. Also invited are the friends Gillian is staying with, an applicant for a teaching position with Greenwood’s department, Greenwood’s cousin, and Greenwood’s brother, who arrives with an atrociously dressed and even worse behaved girlfriend.
Greenwood is notorious for his waspish comments and has each of his guests on edge before the meal is served. He suggests, for instance, that Gillian has chosen a research topic that is too much for her to fully grasp. While nearly everyone who encounters Greenwood despises him, everyone is equally shocked the next day when he is shot during Gillian’s talk at Kings College. Fortunately Edward Gisborne is present to lend moral support to Gillian and promptly takes over.
From there a classic police procedural unfolds. While this book was published far too late to be considered part of the Golden Age, its style and subject were plainly inspired by those classic detective novels. Well worth the time of any reader interested in traditional mysteries.