While this is Book 4 in the series, it stands on it’s own quite well. Indeed, I have not read the other books in this series and had no problems at all jumping right into this book. Colleen McCullough managed to intrigue me right away with several points: the class differences between the Hunters and the Tunbulls; Millie and Jim are a long-term white and black couple; there’s a very nasty neurotoxin on the loose! In 1969, there were not that many mixed-race couples, nor too many female scientists. Both points come to bear in the tale and McCullough uses them realistically. Also, Max Tunbull married a Russian woman, Davina, some many years younger than himself, and her mixed heritage comes to play an interesting, yet important, side note in this mystery.
Carmine Delmonico and his crew of investigators are an interesting lot. Carmine himself is very level-headed and often puts Delia, a British woman with one of the oddest dress-sense I have ever seen, on the case. Indeed, because she is a woman, she sometimes has access to certain information that a male investigator would not. Carmine’s wife, Desdemona, is also a source of wisdom and comfort in this murder mystery. How I would love to be invited to Desdemona’s table for dinner!