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The setting of this posthumous novel is the tiny village of Raneswood, the new home of retired headmaster Malcolm Chance and wife Frances. The Chances live next door to publisher Peter Loxley and his wife, Avril. Both couples use the services of handyman-gardener Fred Dyer. While on a few days' visit to the Chances, Brian Hewlett, Malcolm's replacement at the Granborough School in the town of Edgewater, recognizes Dyer as Jack Benyon, a suspect in the bizarre killings of three women who was released for lack of evidence. Shortly thereafter, Avril Loxley, returning from a trip to London, finds her husband in their house, shot to death--on a day when Frances Chance saw Fred Dyer (she thinks) on the Loxley doorstep. The police are sure they have their man until Frances's identification falters and Dyer produces an alibi. Frances is soon devoting her time to gossiping with Avril and her visiting movie-star cousin, Lynne Denison; with Dyer's timid girlfriend, Sharon Sawyer; and with others, uncovering a few crucial secrets along the way and finally sorting out motive and murderer. Meanwhile, another death delivers the multiple killer of Edgewater into the hands of the police. A duller group of characters would be hard to find. There's little more animation in the barely credible storyline, as narrated by Frances in a well-bred, well-phrased monotone. Altogether, very far from the best work of this late veteran of the genre (A Hobby of Murder, p. 815, etc.).

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0385506880
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Doubleday