MacLeod deserts for the moment her usual series—one featuring Professor Peter Shandy of Balaclava Agricultural College (Exit the Milkman
, 1996, etc.), the other Sarah Kelling and detective husband Max Bittersohn (The Balloon Man
, 1998, etc.)—to reprint a collection of 19 short stories, about half from the '60s, half from the '80s. They run the gamut from the excruciatingly silly "It Was an Awful Shame," involving a group calling itself Comrades of the Convivial Codfish, to "Better a Cat"—taut, chilling, and very short indeed. Between these extremes are several exploits featuring both Max and Peter, including "Counterfeit Christmas," in which Professor Shandy, in the midst of a frenzy of Christmas revelry on campus, tries to track down the person responsible for a spate of phony $20 bills. He succeeds, with heartwarming results. It's back to chills in "Lady Patterly's Lover," in which beautiful Lady Patterly, married to a paralyzed, helpless aristocrat, begins an affair with estate manager Gerald. Matters take an unexpected turn that leads to a crime with a surprising victim.
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