A LITTLE DARLING, DEAD by Jack S. Scott

A LITTLE DARLING, DEAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another provincial-town murder for Inspector Pete Parsons, the matter-of-fact cop (colorless when compared to Scott's gross Inspector Rosher) who made his debut in the far more intriguing A Time of Fine Weather (1985). The first victim, found drowned in a woodsy river, is 16-year-old schoolgirl Deborah Hollowbone--a ""little darling"" to her parents and teachers. But the post-mortem reveals that Deborah had been sexually active for quite some time; a cache of expensive jewelry is found in her bedroom; three of her classmates are behaving very suspiciously. And when the school's caretaker also turns up dead, Inspector Parsons and cheerfully crude Sergeant Wimbush go into high-gear action--exposing a slimy porno/prostitution/blackmail racket that involves local bigwigs and even some national political figures. (The first murder isn't explained, however, until the police hear a ""stupid, sordid little confession by a stupid, neurotically bent little tart."") As usual, Scott peppers the proceedings with relentless, sardonic asides--sometimes amusing, often just sour or strained. (""Weird are the ways of God. Or Ms. God, according to your need."") There's one farcical sequence: the porno-villains' doomed, slapsticky attempt to destroy all the evidence. But Inspector Parsons, despite glimpses of his lusty marital sex-life, isn't a vivid enough hero for black-comic mystery. And, without the presence of droll, foul Inspector Rosher, Scott's dour, ribald views--of human nature, of sexual hypocrisy, of women--seem merely unpleasant, largely unconvincing. In sum: lesser work from an offbeat, downbeat British talent.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's