D. E. Ireland is the pen name of two Michigan authors and friends who’ve hit upon a wonderful device: continuing the story of Eliza Doolitte and Henry Higgins in their first mystery, Wouldn’t It Be Deadly?
With all the original players here, including Colonel Pickering, Freddie Eynsford-Hill, and even Mrs. Pearce, the action opens just after Eliza’s appearance at the Embassy Ball which cemented her transformation from a Covent Garden flower girl to a duchess.
Eliza is living with Higgins’ mother, dating Freddie, and still nursing her annoyances against Higgins, while working as the assistant to his rival elocution expert, Emil Nepommuck. When her boss makes the unfortunate mistake of taking public credit for Eliza’s transformation, Higgins’ publishes a damning article that exposes Nepommuck as the fraud he is–until he’s murdered, and the most obvious suspect is, of course, Henry Higgins.
The only way to clear Henry is for Eliza to help him sleuth the many enemies Nepommuck has gathered, and what a crew it turns out to be: elderly dowagers, Americans, actresses–all have been tutored by the charlatan to lose their accents and upgrade their vowels and consonants. There are secrets being kept, and Higgins has his own surprising one to hide as the investigation heats up and it soon becomes clear that he is on the verge of being arrested.
The author’s are to be credited for maintaining the tone and the personality of all of the players, down to using dialogue you can believe these characters would say. There is humor and exasperation, and the final scene rivals anything yet to be seen on Drury Lane. All of the period details are spot on. A wonderful debut of pure brain candy and one can only feel G. B. Shaw would be best pleased.