RUINS OF CIVILITY by James Bradberry


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 A second outing for architect/author Bradberry (The Seventh Sacrament, 1994) and his sleuthing Princeton professor Jamie Ramsgill, now visiting Cambridge and his onetime mentor there- -professor Rainer Grass of the School of Art and Architecture. On the night before Jamie's arrival, Grass had attended a small retirement party in his honor, during which he declared a change of mind about retiring, had a violent argument with student girlfriend Amy Denster, and disappeared. Days later, after Grass's picture was publicized, a night porter at one of Cambridge's colleges tells Detective Chief Inspector Lyndsay Hill that he saw Grass on the fateful night--tied up in the bottom of a punt being poled by a second person. Hill has found conflicting time frames and plenty of motives among the party guests: Iain Frontis was set to take over Grass's job; Amy was pregnant by the sixtysomething professor. Her American ex-boyfriend Gaines Simpson was also there, as was Nigerian student George Boye, who's deep into an affair with Grass's estranged wife, Ghislaine, and whom Grass was about to report for plagiarism. The professor was said to be at odds, too, with rich, well-connected Cheverton Beggs, about Beggs's soon-to- be-published book on architectural ruins. Jamie quickly insinuates himself into the investigation--figuring out the body's ingenious hiding place but unable to prevent a second murder. He does rescue a third potential victim, however, uncovering a buried chapter in his own life along the way. More than you ever wanted to know about architecture, the Cambridge landscape, or sophisticated computer skills, in an overworked story crammed with repetitive detail and soap-operatic characters. Gung-ho lovers of architectural arts may revel; for others, a long, dull journey.

Pub Date: July 10th, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-14041-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1996


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