Death of a Unicorn is one of those English novels which at some point you realize is all about inheritance. Lady Margaret, who goes by Mabs, is older than her twin sister Penny by twenty minutes. Those twenty minutes mean that Mabs who will inherit their stately home, Cheadle, which as someone says, “Looks kind of like it was waiting to eat someone.” Cheadle looms in the background behind every family squabble and argument:
When Bartrand Millett built Cheadle in 1712 he effectively bankrupted all his heirs, in perpetuity. Looking through the account books I can see the same scrimping going on generation after generation. My mother and I are only the last two in a long line of cheeseparers.
Death of a Unicorn starts off with Mabs bored at a party, “hiding from Mark Babington and trying to get squiffy.” She is surprised to received help from someone she does not know and that first meeting leads to all sorts of interesting complications between Mabs, her mother and her sister.
We’re following Death of a Unicorn with another Peter Dickinson mystery, The Poison Oracle, this summer. Book Groups take note: There’s a Reading Group Guide in Death of a Unicorn which we hope you will take advantage of and for The Poison Oracle we have an interview with Peter Dickinson carried out by none other than New York Times bestselling author of the V. I. Warshawski novels, Sara Paretsky!