montmorency on the rocks

Montmorency on the Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer?

I read the first Montmorency book a few months back and concluded mostly that it was 1) good light entertainment and 2) YOUNG ADULT AS BALLS (please do not ask me to quantify how YA balls are. I don’t have the measurements). My assessment of this book is similar… but the book itself is quite a bit different. While Montmorency had a certain emotional distance to it, Montmorency on the Rocks is SO INCREDIBLY FULL OF FEELINGS AND DRAMA AND PLOT TWISTS AND MORE FEELINGS. Seriously: in the first chapter, Dr. Farcett has just accidentally killed a guy and Montmorency is addicted to some kind of opiate and there are man tears everywhere. This book is like 60% man tears (the remaining fraction: 30% Fox-Selwyn trying to shake some sense into one guy or the other. 10% clothes). It’s crazy, especially by comparison with the previous book.

But it’s charming somehow! How can every single plot development be so perfectly contrived to make one of the protagonists feel bad? HOW CAN THE DRAMA KEEP PILING UP. It’s over-the-top and unsubtle, but in a way I found more endearingly amusing than anything else. Maybe it’s just because the presentation is so straightforward - the sheer melodrama of everything is a bit silly, but it’s not overwrought. Updale doesn’t spend much time trying to sell us on the profundity of her characters’ pain. It’s all very matter-of-fact, and then ON TO THE NEXT INCIDENT OF HORRIBLE ANGUISH AND DIFFICULT DECISIONS.

The two mystery plots are pretty simple, but clever enough in their way - even if the resolution of each was also pretty much calculated for maximum irony and drama. Honestly, it read to me more like “here are some Victorian people who have PROBLEMS, also there will be mysteries solved at some point. DRAMATICALLY.” Which is perfectly fine by me! I’m not the target audience and I probably enjoyed this for the wrong reasons anyway.