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A Question of Guilt Paperback – May 13, 1993

3.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Helen West Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This first novel by a London solicitor is wonderfully British, devilishly intricate and, once the reader settles in, compelling indeed. Eileen Cartwright, a rich, middle-aged widow of less than lofty moral standards, arranges the murder of her solicitor's wife, under the mistaken impression that the act will win his affections. But the hired murderer, would-be private detective Stanislaus Jaskowski, is caught almost immediately--and confesses all. The trying task of proving the widow Cartwright's role in the crime falls to police superintendent Geoffrey Bailey and prosecutor Helen West--who are slowly and deliciously drawn together personally and professionally. While the case comes to involve Jaskowski's sons, Edward and Peter, the horrifying truth is revealed as the reader gradually learns the motives driving each of the marvelously drawn characters in this auspicious first volume in Pocket's new hardcover mystery series. Major ad/promo; BOMC alternate.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"These women with hands-on experience in crime write very good mysteries."
-- Publishers Weekly (Publisher's Weekly ) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Mandarin (May 13, 1993)
  • ISBN-10: 0749336099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749336097
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,622,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a latecomer to the works of Frances Fyfield, I decided to start with her first West/Bailey mystery. What a remarkable author. The character descriptions are formidable, the plot good enough but not really that important. It's the whole pyschology of the book that really makes it impossible to put down. I can't wait to start her next one! (This book can be found in out of print stock).
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Our first glimpse of Helen West, the prosecuting attorney in a complex murder case, reveals her studying the case files while she eats. The defendant, Stanislaus Jaskowski, of Polish origin, was a part-time private investigator, charged with the murder of one Sylvia Bernard, the wife of a solicitor, Michael Bernard. Mrs. Eileen Cartwright is listed as someone obsessed with Michael Bernard, and Jaskowski claims that she paid him to kill Sylvia.

In her office, which is comfortable but untidy, she works, and soon is joined by Geoffrey Bailey and his colleague, Mr. Ryan, where they go over the file.

The author lays out the cozy settings, gives vivid descriptions of the characters, and offers us an opportunity to listen in on the discussions in which they are involved in such a way that completely engaged me. Over the following pages, the plot unfolds, as even more characters are introduced and we come to see the intricacies of how they fit into the big picture.

Many of the characters were unlikeable. Jaskowski's son, Edward, who had a secret liaison with Eileen Cartwright at some point; and even Ryan, the underling to Geoffrey Bailey, who makes some pathetic choices. Mrs. Cartwright's pure evil is slowly unleashed on someone else. Who will save the day? How does Peter, Edward's younger brother, fit into the rescue?

The twisted plot did keep me reading, and I liked the sections with Helen and Geoffrey the best. A budding romance between them kept things interesting. There were numerous subplots and other characters that had peripheral roles in the story, and I could have done without them. Overall, I enjoyed A Question of Guilt: A Helen West Mystery, but sections of the story bogged down for me. An overall 4.0 stars.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A Question Of Guilt
by
Frances Fyfield

Essentially...

This is another Helen West book...in this one she is involved in a really bizarre murder trial.

My thoughts after reading this book...

I am in bookish love with this author. In my mind she is every bit as good...if not better than...Elizabeth George, Alan Bradley, and Deborah Crombie. This book was intense, extremely well plotted and filled with the kind of characters you will love and the kind that you will love to hate! There were even two precious cats in this book! One was Bailey's and one was Helen's...yummy British kitties!

So...because this is a mystery I will give nothing away except for this...Helen is involved in a case and the defendant...Eileen...comes to hate her horribly and from prison plots Helen's demise. The plot is complicated, tricky and intricate. I have been reading these out of order but I truly don't think that matters. This is the book where she meets Bailey...her love interest in this book as well as in future books. They are both involved in this case. Eileen is the woman in jail initially for hiring a man named Stanislaus to murder the wife of the man she is obsessed with. When he is caught Eileen begins to manipulate Ed...Stanislaus's son. Ed appears to be quite a brutish evil person...even though he is youngish. And then there is Peter...another son...younger than Ed. He has a sort of accidental infatuation with Helen, Helen's garden, and Helen's cat.

Eileen appears to be a thoroughly evil and unstable person...sort of big, ungainly, ill treated by her father...thus her hatred of "attractive" women.

What I loved about this book...

Oh my word I loved it all...
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The mysteries by Fyfield were recommended to me. A Question of Guilt is the first in the series about Helen West and I found it very rambling and on several occasions I almost quit and moved on to another book.
I probably will not bother with the other books in the series.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Set in London. A woman is murdered. A man, Stanislaus Jaskowski, is quickly arrested. He implicates Eileen Cartwright as the instigator who paid him to murder the woman, her attorney's wife. Everyone knows she is guilty. Helen West (the equivalent of Assistant District Attorney in the U.S.) has the case. No one can even interrupt her as she is reading about the case. Come back later, as she simply cannot stop and start again. Helen is divorced from Hugo, who cheated or tried to cheat his clients, and she tried to stop him. He also cheated on her. For some stupid reason, she agrees to meet with Hugo and his new fiancee for dinner. She also attends their wedding - she doesn't want to - but she has to show that she's a forgiving person, a good person. Even though she hasn't forgiven him. What difference does it make? If you don't want to go to something, don't go! But she goes, and invites the head detective to go with her. He does. The suit she wore turned out to be the wrong choice, but it doesn't say why.

At the first hearing for Jaskowski, Eileen Cartwright shows up. Bailey tells Helen that Jaskowski's wife is also there. Helen encourages Eileen to leave or she won't like the consequences. This incurs Ms. Cartwright's enmity, which is not surprising. Later, it's stated that even Jaskowski's wife didn't show up. What? Or maybe that's at some other time? It's kind of all the same.

This is supposed to be some sort of mystery...I think. But it is not mysterious. It is formulaic. There is the obligatory romance between Helen and Bailey, the head detective. Oh, how tentative and unsure of themselves they are.
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