LITTLE KNELL by Catherine Aird


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It looks like a rather exotic new case for Detective Inspector Sloan of England's Calleshire Constabulary (Stiff News, 1999, etc.). Elderly Colonel Caversham, owner of Whimbrel House, has died, leaving his collection of valuable artifacts to the Greatorex Museum in Berebury. The oldest piece in his collection is the Egyptian mummy Rodoheptah, but when his wooden longcase is opened, the remains within are the newest of all, the corpse of Jill Carter, a young secretary dead only a few days. Although the mummy turns up in a closet in Whimbrel in time to be laid to rest again, traces of heroin found elsewhere in the house provide an unsettling new complication, verifying Sloan's suspicion that the murder is somehow tied into the thriving drug trade in the nearby fishing port of Edsway. Meanwhile, David Barton, who worked with Jill at the accounting firm of Pearson, Worrow and Gisby, lies unconscious in hospital, victim of a car accident. Sloan will come in for some snap lessons in money-laundering, a close look at the animal-protection reserve in the kingdom of Lasserta, and a couple of assaults on his integrity via bribes before he's able to pin down the force behind the mayhem.

Not without its intriguing facets, but a surfeit of dull dialogue and an almost complete lack of suspense result in tepid pacing and a ho-hum windup. Only lovers of the formula's most ritualistic features will want to join veteran Aird for this one.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-26983-8
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2001


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