"The Peacock" by Isobel Bogdan is a delightful book. It has been translated from the original, which was in German, but loses nothing for that. This reader read it from cover to cover in 24 hours.
"The Peacock" took me back to team building sessions in the nineties, when you were forced to spend an extended period of time with colleagues, who you rubbed along with in the normal run of things, but otherwise had little in common with. The stereotypes portrayed in the book will be recognisable to anyone who has ever been thrown into any such activity. You might even identify yourself from among the list of participants described here. I did, but I will spare you all the amusement of knowing which one!
Liz and her team of bankers find themselves holed up in a Scottish Castle for the weekend with psychologist Rachel, who is to lead their team building sessions. Liz enjoys the outdoor life and is keen to put on her new hiking boots, don her Barbour jacket and walk round the estate with her dog, Mervyn. What she isn’t keen on doing is spending time with her team. She’s also disappointed that her friend, who promised he would lead the event, has had to drop out at the last minute because of illness.
Liz has little regard for the four men she oversees, though, of them all, she has more time for Jim, who will speak his mind and is the most proactive of the group. Bernard, she sees as eager to please but lacking any real dynamism. He can also be rather sullen at times. Andrew, on the other hand, would just rather not be there and refuses point blank to join in the group tasks. David is a grafter, but he will never set the world alight and is easily intimidated. Liz can’t see much value in spending time with any of them, especially now her reason for arranging the event, her friend, isn’t there.
Add to their number the very capable and amenable cook, Helen, a pair of slightly eccentric owners Lord and Lady McIntosh, their hired help Aileen, their Polish farm manager Ryszard, then throw in a heavy snow storm and you have a recipe for a weekend that might just be more than any of them bargained for. The house is in dire need of repair and the estate is kept limping along by the income from a self catering business that Lord Hamish and Lady Fiona have developed, by converting properties on the estate for visitors to use. This also includes the west wing of the house, where the team building event is taking place. None of the bankers is that keen on being there, let alone trying to cement their team. It’s cold, there is pitifully little hot water and they would all prefer to be somewhere else. But then one of the resident peacocks is killed: and the the mystery of how it happened and who is responsible makes for a captivating whodunnit!
To say more would spoil the enjoyment of this engaging tale, but it’s such a fun read that I strongly advise you all to buy "The Peacock" and read it.