DEAD BY MORNING by Dorothy Simpson


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Followers of the author's Inspector Thanet series (Suspicious Death, etc.) know what to expect, and there are no surprises here--only a heavier-than-usual reliance on coincidence to make sense of a story that started 20 years before; that's when irresponsible playboy Leo Martindale left Longford Hall and his ancestral acres, not to be heard from again until his sudden reappearance decades later. The mansion is now being run as a country hotel by Leo's sister Delia--heir to the estate in Leo's absence--and her husband Giles. When Leo's body is found in a snowy ditch soon after his arrival, Thanet--convinced it was murder, not just a hit-and-run--begins to uncover a string of motives from past to present. Leo was not lovable; he had left behind an unborn, unacknowledged child, as well as another child crippled for life; he had carelessly destroyed the lifework of a neighboring farmer, and was now threatening the life-style and livelihood of several decent people, his sister one of them. The hotel van--known to be the lethal weapon--was driven by half a dozen suspects during the crucial hours, but, in the end, it provides the pivotal clue for Thanet's windup of the case. Slow and steady; sometimes soporific; laced with vignettes from the Inspector's home-life and his struggles with gung-ho new Superintendent Draco, this episode may satisfy Simpson fans but is unlikely to create new ones.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Scribners