SINS FOR FATHER KNOX by Josef Skvorecky


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Ten more mystery stories by the gifted Czech novelist (The Engineer of Human Souls, Dvorak in Love), who is also an intense devotee of ""Golden Age"" puzzle, suspense. In The Mournful Demeanor of Lieutenant Boruvka, published in Europe in the late 1960's and in English in 1987, Skvorecky introduced downbeat Prague cop Boruvka. Here, in a newly translated collection dating from 1973, Boruvka makes only a couple of cameo appearances, giving center-stage to no-nonsense amateur sleuth Eve Adam, a beautiful and gutsy nightclub-singer. And there's another difference, too: each story breaks one of the ""Ten Commandments"" of mystery-writing issued in 1929 by British cleric/writer Ronald A. Knox. Eve's contract with the State Concert Agency takes her from Prague to a Swedish resort-town, N.Y.C., and San Francisco, with a transatlantic sea voyage along the way. The convoluted plots--some likably outrageous, others slightly tedious--involve the poisoning of a film director, a kidnapping solved by algebra, an unbreakable alibi, a locked-room conundrum, plus several crimes of passion. (Sexual rage is a frequent motive.) Occasionally the Father Knox gimmick is strained and tiresome; more often it adds a wryly effective grace note. In sum, then: offbeat, faintly tongue-in-cheek entertainment for aficionados of classic puzzlers in the Ellery Queen tradition--especially those who'll also appreciate Skvorecky's darkish, edgy textures.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1989
ISBN: 0393307875
Publisher: Norton