DEATH OF A HOLLOW MAN by Caroline Graham


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The second appearance for Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (The Killings at Badger's Drift, 1988), who, while attending opening night of the Causton Amateur Dramatic Society (CADS) production of Amadeus (his wife Joyce has a small bit), is horrified to watch ""Salieri"" actually slit his throat in his death scene. Who switched the prop knife? The amateur actor/full-time accountant had many enemies: the pompous director he was planning to usurp; his spurned first wife, Rosa; his philandering second; her lover, etc. And all were involved in the CADS Amadeus show. Barnaby patiently sorts through a false confession (a father protecting his son); wife Kitty's lovers; a timetable of who was precisely where backstage; assists Deirdre, general CADS dogsbody, when her Alzheimer-afflicted dad must be hospitalized; and, finally, calls the cast together to stage a confrontation scene with the killer, whose dreary motive is somewhat of a letdown after all the preceding show-biz tidbits. Graham surely knows her way around the village mystery, touching on all its earmarks: the gossip, the small-mindedness, the noses in everybody's business. And her theatrics ring true. But familiarity, in her case, does not quite equal originality. A middling cozy, then, that needs a few inspired jolts.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1989
Publisher: Morrow