MAGGIE by Jennie Tremaine


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Maggie Macleod, the much-abused young wife of a rough police inspector, is on trial for murdering her husband with arsenic; the verdict seems a foregone conclusion--with all the evidence pointing to Maggie as the culprit (despite her genuine air of battered innocence). And so the cruel, effete Marquess of Hanley uses this tragic situation to play a nasty joke on his nemesis, the brand-new Earl of Strathairn: during a drunken card-game, the Earl finds himself having promised (as part of a lost bet) to marry the accused murderess Maggie! In dreadful shame and embarrassment, the honorable Earl goes through with this stunt, wedding the uncaring Maggie in an informal prison ceremony. But then: Maggie is released on a ""not proven"" verdict! (The plot is reminiscent of Gilbert & Sullivan's Yeoman of the Guard.) So, while both parties agree to disregard the non-legal marriage, the Earl insists on offering kind, fraternal protection to poor, fearful Maggie: he furnishes her with a jolly chaperone, a new identity, and a jaunt into London society. Maggie remains haunted by the unsolved crime, however; soon they're both determined to unmask the real killer--who seems to have struck again up in Glasgow; their informal sleuthing leads to the exposure of a criminal gang (Maggie's husband was a corrupt cop), with the nasty Marquess reappearing to abduct Maggie. And along the way, of course, low-born Maggie and the Earl (engaged to a fortune-hunter) are slowly falling madly in love with each other. . . but don't reveal their feelings till the absolute bitter end. With a so-so final twist, a busy yet predictable plot, and some cute romance for Maggie's elderly chaperone: an odd, half-absorbing mixture of dark Edwardian crime and Regency-style foolishness--from a writer who (as Marion Chesney) is already well-known for the latter.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's