The Tinman"" was Britain's greatest 19th-century jockey, Fred Archer, who committed suicide in 1886--supposedly while in a...

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BERTIE AND THE TINMAN

The Tinman"" was Britain's greatest 19th-century jockey, Fred Archer, who committed suicide in 1886--supposedly while in a typhoid-caused delirium. ""Bertie"" is none other than Albert Edward, Prince of Wales--who is both narrator (jaunty) and sleuth (rather clumsy) in this larky, ribald period jape. Bertie, you see, doesn't believe the typhoid story, knowing the symptoms all too well from personal experience (his father's death, his own near-fatal illness). Instead, the Prince is sure that super-jockey Archer, whom he idolized, was ""terrorized into taking his own life."" So, vowing to punish whoever's responsible, Bertie secretly turns detective, incognito--only to collect some distressing data. Archer, it seems, might have been involved in a race-fixing scam with that notorious race-track entrepreneur, ""the Squire."" Sleuthing further, Bertie beds the Squire's mistress (vaudevillian Myrtle Bliss), visits the late Archer's unlikely fiancee (the aged Countess of Montrose), takes a swim in the Thames (thanks to two thugs), and apparently triggers two more deaths: Myrtle and Bertie's sidekick, Archer's soldier-pal Charlie Buckfast, both turn up as murder victims. But Bertie, after several attempts to trap the Squire (including a naughty weekend-party), does finally triumph--with a surprise or two--over the killer. By Lovesey's own top-drawer standards (The False Inspector Dew, the Sgt. Cribb series), this frolic is a trifle disappointing--too cutesy, too thin--as a period re-creation. But it's undeniably bouncy and chortle-worthy--with added pleasure for racing fans, a splendid cameo by the dour Queen (who has her own secrets), and the anything-butstuffy narration of vain, idle, plucky Bertie.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Ballantine

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988