Marston effectively textures the main mystery with colorful backstories. Meantime, his character portraits deepen with every...

THE OWLS OF GLOUCESTER

Brother Nicholas has been missing from Gloucester Abbey for two days, much longer than it usually takes him to collect the rents from the 17 local tenants. So tensions between brothers and novices in the abbey run high. Disciplinarian Brother Paul wields his birch rod with even more fervor than usual, and harmless Brother Frewine (a.k.a. Brother Owl) threatens corporal punishment for the first time ever. Despite a recent scolding, mischievous novices Elaf and Kenelm sneak into the pantry in the middle of the night to quell their growling stomachs, only to discover the corpse of Brother Nicholas. Sounds like a job for Domesday Commissioners Ralph Delchard and Gervase Bret (The Foxes of Warwick, 2002, etc.). Another murder seems just the tonic for Ralph, suffering a bout of ennui at the prospect of mediating yet another petty property dispute far from what passes in 1086 for the comforts of home. True, his wry wife Golde is along for comfort, but she’s a bit distracted at the prospect of an imminent reunion with Alegar, her long-estranged sister. Ralph and Gervase face resistance from Durand, the local sheriff—whether from guilt or suspicion of outsiders remains to be determined. In addition, everyone at the abbey hated Brother Nicholas, though most at first claim otherwise. Keeping them all on pins and needles is the news that King William the Conqueror himself plans to visit Gloucester.

Marston effectively textures the main mystery with colorful backstories. Meantime, his character portraits deepen with every installment, yielding extra rewards for series fans.

Pub Date: April 7, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-28542-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.

ARCHIE GOES HOME

In Archie Goodwin's 15th adventure since the death of his creator, Rex Stout, his gossipy Aunt Edna Wainwright lures him from 34th Street to his carefully unnamed hometown in Ohio to investigate the death of a well-hated bank president.

Tom Blankenship, the local police chief, thinks there’s no case since Logan Mulgrew shot himself. But Archie’s mother, Marjorie Goodwin, and Aunt Edna know lots of people with reason to have killed him. Mulgrew drove rival banker Charles Purcell out of business, forcing Purcell to get work as an auto mechanic, and foreclosed on dairy farmer Harold Mapes’ spread. Lester Newman is convinced that Mulgrew murdered his ailing wife, Lester’s sister, so that he could romance her nurse, Carrie Yeager. And Donna Newman, Lester’s granddaughter, might have had an eye on her great-uncle’s substantial estate. Nor is Archie limited to mulling over his relatives’ gossip, for Trumpet reporter Verna Kay Padgett, whose apartment window was shot out the night her column raised questions about the alleged suicide, is perfectly willing to publish a floridly actionable summary of the leading suspects that delights her editor, shocks Archie, and infuriates everyone else. The one person missing is Archie’s boss, Nero Wolfe (Death of an Art Collector, 2019, etc.), and fans will breathe a sigh of relief when he appears at Marjorie’s door, debriefs Archie, notices a telltale clue, prepares dinner for everyone, sleeps on his discovery, and arranges a meeting of all parties in Marjorie’s living room in which he names the killer.

The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5040-5988-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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You can’t help but chuckle over all the disasters, but in the end the heroine catches her prey.

DRESSED UP 4 MURDER

An Arizona accountant with a penchant for solving murders lands a fishy case.

Sophie "Phee" Kimball might lead a dull life if it weren’t for her mother, Harriet Plunkett, and Harriet’s neurotic Chiweenie, Streetman. As it is, Harriet lives near her daughter in Sun City West and has a wide circle of zany friends who’ve helped Phee solve several mysteries (Molded 4 Murder, 2019, etc.) while she’s been working for Williams Investigations along with her boyfriend, Marshall, a former police officer. While Phee’s visiting Harriet one day, Streetman dashes over to the neighbors’ barbecue grill and unearths a dead body under a tarp. As usual, the overwhelmed local police ask Williams Investigations to help—er, consult. Harriet’s main concern is getting costumes made for the reluctant Streetman, whom she’s entered in a series of contests starting with Halloween and progressing through Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hannukah, and St. Patrick’s Day. One of her friends is an accomplished seamstress who goes all out making gorgeous costumes that will beat an obnoxious lady who looks down on mutts. The dead man is identified as Cameron Tully, a seafood distributor, who was poisoned by the locally ubiquitous sago pine. At the first dog contest, Elaine Meschow has to be rushed to the hospital after she gets a dose of the same thing. The owner of a gourmet dog food company, Elaine is lucky enough to recover. After Streetman takes second place, Harriet’s team redoubles its efforts for the next contest while Phee and Marshall, who are moving into a new place together, continue to hunt for clues. A restaurant holdup and a scheme to use empty houses for hookups for high school kids add to the confusion.

You can’t help but chuckle over all the disasters, but in the end the heroine catches her prey.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2455-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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