THE MOURNFUL DEMEANOUR OF LIEUTENANT BORUVKA by Josef Skvorecky

THE MOURNFUL DEMEANOUR OF LIEUTENANT BORUVKA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Written in the early 1960's, these 12 ""detective tales""--featuring the low-key, faintly droll exploits of a gloomily laid-back Czech police-detective--were published in Britain in 1973, but never before in the US. They suggest that Skvorecky (now a Toronto-based expatriate, the acclaimed author of The Bass Saxophone and The Engineer of Human Souls) was an avid reader of Ellery Queen, R. Austin Freeman, John Dickson Cart, et al.--whose classic plots are echoed throughout. Nearly half the stories involve ""locked room"" variations. There are backstage killings (a musical revue, a fashion show), a mountaineering-murder puzzle, the poisoning of a lecherously corrupt prosecutor, tricks with chandeliers and cable cars, an obscure musical clue--plus two murders in Italy, where Boruvka goes on vacation with his teen-age daughter (whose precocious, ne-nonsense ways provide some comedy). Also, running chronologically through the tales is Boruvka's growing attraction to young policewoman Eva, who's more than responsive (despite Boruvka's wedding ring). So when, in the penultimate tale, Eva is near. fatally assaulted, Boruvka himself is a suspect--but not for long. And in the final episode, Boruvka shares with Eva two secrets--how he came to be married, how he became a policeman--from his past. Only occasionally flavorsome in the later-Skvorecky manner, but mildly clever, gently diverting entertainment for connoisseurs of short stories in the Golden Age tradition.

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 1987
Publisher: Norton