3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Richard Marker, Chief Security Officer at the Adelphi Hotel in London, has to deal with lots of challenging problems, ranging from petty theft to kidnapping and murder. Somehow, he still finds time to enjoy the exquisite food and drinks the hotel has to offer. Infatuated with the ravishing Sandrine Parte, the French Public Relations Officer, he wonders if he is ever going to have a chance at winning her heart, especially since she is having an affair with George Brooks, one of the managers. When Sir John Bulling, the Chairman of the Adelphi, gets caught up in a hostile takeover bid, an opportunity arises for Marker and Sandrine to work together and sort things out.
The Hotel Detective and his Lover by Derek Picot is a riveting thriller with countless twists and turns of the plot and a surprising ending. In terms of action and suspense, there is never a dull moment. Even if the novel has more than 500 pages, it reads easily. Each of the 16 chapters is subdivided into cinematic scenes so that the different players engaged in the cat-and-mouse game in the book can alternatively be in the limelight. What I liked most about the novel was that I never knew what to expect next. Adrenalin addicts will be rewarded with a cavalcade of clandestine meetings, illegitimate children, cover-up stories, betrayals, and illicit payments.
Most of the action takes place at the Adelphi Hotel in London. Since Derek Picot has managed luxury hotels on five continents, he does a great job of capturing the atmosphere of the Adelphi in vivid pictures. An establishment with a long tradition, the hotel is a highly successful family business that survived not only the war and postwar times, but also the Swinging Sixties. I absolutely loved the scenes in which the author elaborated on the variety of minor and major incidents affecting the hotel’s employers and guests. The Adelphi Hotel becomes more than a setting. Although it has a tumultuous life, it still works like a Swiss watch. The author skillfully turns the hotel into a majestic figure gracefully protecting both its personnel and customers. This is the reason why we breathlessly read one page after another to find out whether the hotel will live through the takeover bid or not.
Derek Picot’s novel also excels in elaborate descriptions of the characters and detailed background information. Regardless of their episodic or main role in the story, all the characters are realistically portrayed. Richard Marker is not exactly the ideal type of detective. In his mid-forties and more than slightly overweight, he seems to have enjoyed the privileges of the high-end life at the Adelphi to the maximum. Despite his apparent laissez-faire style, he has eyes and ears all over the place. His investigations give us the opportunity to get acquainted with a large cast of picturesque characters: the femme fatale, the arrogant boss, the unscrupulous mole, the estranged son, the cheating husband, the homosexual, the drug addict, and the killer. What I liked least about the novel was the fact that many characters were driven by self-interest and had no qualms of conscience.
I couldn’t finish this review without mentioning the author’s dry sense of humor. It certainly made the whole reading experience much more pleasant. When calculating an increase in the hotel’s profits, Brooks candidly hopes that they “might get something from the Royals this year, a State funeral, another Royal marriage…” (p. 30). In a different chapter, a rather gullible character “swallowed the story like a hungry priest on the last day of Lent” (p. 478). Similarly, a thug called Alberto Francisci is extremely disappointed by the interference of the police in his muddy affairs: “Nothing, in his opinion, works properly in Italy. The Italians have assassinated the only two people who could run the country. Caesar and Mussolini” (p. 489).
Unfortunately, the novel needs another round of proofreading and editing. The errors are not distracting because they mainly consist of punctuation mistakes and typos. However, they should be fixed for the book to get the highest rating. Considering the current editing of the novel, I am giving it 3 out of 4 stars. I am recommending it to fans of thrillers and murder mysteries. Because of the occasional profane words, hot scenes, and graphic violence, it is not suitable for younger audiences.
**THIS BOOK HAS SINCE BEEN EDITED AND UPDATED**
The Hotel Detective and his Lover
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon