C. B. GREENFIELD: THE PIANO BIRD by Lucille Kallen

C. B. GREENFIELD: THE PIANO BIRD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It's ironic that Kallen insists on featuring the name of her sleuth in each book-title--because newspaper-editor Greenfield himself, a limp Nero Wolfe imitation, remains the weakest element in this mystery series. The strongest element? Narrator-sidekick Maggie Rome, who's at her breezy best in the opening chapters here--on leave from Greenfield's small-town New England paper, tending her ailing mother (a slipped disc) on the unspoiled isle of Sanibel off Florida's west coast. Wandering around the island (and its neighbor, Captiva), Maggie's curiosity leads her to overhear the tensions among a group of busily working (and feuding) showbiz folk: the author of a B'waybound musical; the nervous composer; a rewrite man from L.A.; the chilly producer; and blonde Thea, the producer's mistress and would-be star. So it's Maggie who finds Thea's body in an ornithological Refuge--dead from mysterious causes, eventually revealed to be poison via campfire-frankfurter stick. And the suspects include two of her boyfriends, the musical's composer (artistic reasons), and ecology-activist Sarah McChesney--who was determined to prevent Thea from buying property on pristine Captiva. Unfortunately, things slow down a good deal when C. B. Greenfield suddenly arrives to play aloof super-sleuth: much talkiness ensues. Disappointing, too, is the implausible trick-solution--which also comes equipped with a dubious Message. But Maggie's narration is brightly amusing, some of the show-biz dialogue is endearingly nasty--and the Sanibel/Captiva background is a well-sketched treat, especially for anyone who's already been there.

Pub Date: March 12th, 1984
Publisher: Random House