THE TARTAN SELL by Jonathan Gash


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This tenth outing for East Anglia's Lovejoy--womanizer, sardonic narrator, ""an antique dealer, in bad with the law""--is one of Gash's mildest entries thus far: light on twists and action, heavy on chatty atmosphere. True, there's violence right at the start--as Lovejoy awaits the 3 A.M. arrival of a reproduction bureau from up north. . .and winds up a murder suspect when the lorry driver turns up dead (sans bureau). Who killed the driver? And what happened to the bureau (which turns out to be authentic, not fake)? Well, to find out, Lovejoy journeys up to Scotland, covering some of the distance as part of a traveling fair. Eventually he reaches the source of that bureau: the once-grand family estate known as Tachnadray--where the impoverished McGunn clan has been selling off all its antique treasures. And, soon charmed by the McGunn ladies (including the comely, crippled clan leader), Lovejoy is doing more wooing and social-work than sleuthing--though he does ultimately unmask the member of the Tachnadray household responsible for the thievery and murder. There's some charm in the seam that Lovejoy devises to save Tachnadray: a ""paper job"" auction--complete with fakes, glorified junk, and a preposterously impressive catalogue. There's a bit of fey intrigue in the McGunn clan's erotic tensions and gothic secrets. But, despite one or two rough ups for Lovejoy, this is neither very active nor very mysterious--and therefore dependent, to an even greater extent than other Gash installments, on the reader's fondness for antique-world details and the Lovejoy persona (an acquired taste).

Pub Date: May 19th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's