DEAD BALL by Barry Cork
Kirkus Star


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An engaging first mystery whose setting is the tony Royal West Wessex Golf Club, which is soon to host the Tamworth Classic--internationally televised and hyped to a frenzy. When the ninth green is discovered torn to bits five days before the event, club secretary Alan Thurston and Chief Constable Linforth call on Inspector Angus Straun for help. He finds the culprit in short order--an elderly feminist named April Tonge--but vandalism is just the first of a series of disasters. There are minor ones like a strike by the TV cameramen; sacks containing defoliant instead of fertilizer; a maniacal motorcyclist on the course; a threatening note demanding money. Then comes the heavy stuff. Straun, divorced and living alone, now working on a second novel after his successful first under a different name, returns home one night to find his cat decapitated and a 13th-century crossbow missing from the wall. The following night, Keith Fletcher, the golf club's consultant agronomist, is found in a sand trap with a broken neck--an accident according to the coroner, but it's murder for sure when Tamworth Electronics P.R. woman Polly Appleby is shot dead with Straun's crossbow. There will be more killings before the purpose behind it all--rooted in Third World politics--is uncovered. There's also a restrained affair between Straun and his literary agent, Laurie, and a tense finale as the Tamworth Classic goes into its last round. Overelaborate plotting and some off putting iciness in Straun's personality are minor flaws in a very polished, thoroughly entertaining debut.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1989
ISBN: 684-19044-3
Publisher: Scribner
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