MORTIMER'S CROSS by Joan Aiken

MORTIMER'S CROSS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

English madcap Arabel Jones and her cantankerous pet raven Mortimer (of Arabel's Raven and Arabel and Mortimer) in three further episodes: one energetically manic, one cliched and blah, one that has its ups and downs. The clear winner is "The Mystery of Mr. Jones's Disappearing Taxi"--wherein the taxi is stolen by sniffy under-librarian Mr. Grigg for nightly book-heists; fluttery Mrs. Jones misinterprets a kidnappers' ransom demand; Arabel and Mortimer find themselves marooned with the book-thief and the kidnappers and the rock-star kidnapee in an unoccupied housing tower. . . and all present make their escape (from building and flood) via hang glider. The yawner is the title story: Arabella's deaf, overpowering aunt comes to nurse Mrs. F., overturns the household, inadvertently packs Mortimer off (in a box labeled Mortimer's Cross) to a research station (at a place called Mortimer's Cross) where, true to form, he wreaks havoc and redeems himself. The story that has its moments, and some unusual color and detail, is "Mortimer's Portrait on Glass." The Joneses, caravaning in Ireland, rescue a local glassmanufacturer/lepidopterist from a bog. At his factory, Mortimer's perpetual "NEVERMORE"--in excitement, at the sight of his portrait in glass--shatters everything on the premises (except Mortimer's portrait). . . which leads Arabella to think of shattering the offshore iceberg with a laser beam (releasing the frozen dinosaur, which disappears in the original bog). This outlandish pile-up doesn't quite effervesce, and Mortimer's irresistibility has to be taken on faith throughout. Yet the blend of English whimsy and English farce does give the series a certain raffish character and verve.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1984
ISBN: 0563363851
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1984




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