A MATTER OF RECORD by Malcolm Gray


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Once again, the author's sleuth is laconic ex-cop P.I. Alan Craig (Look Back on Murder, 1986), who this time has been invited to join a group visiting Venice and touring on the Orient Express, a la Agatha Christie. Tour arrangers Norma and Michael Paget are from Fawchester, as are several others aboard: mystery writer Ruth Adamson; her colorless librarian tenant Mary Thornton, who's writing a Fawchester town history; handsome young brewery exec Clive Winters; teacher Peter Grundy; attractive feminist writer Leila Davidson; gossipy Betty Layton; and aristocratic Paula Renton, married to much older, retired Colonel Renton, the town's most prominent citizen. Although there are undercurrents, all is well until Mary Thornton commits suicide on the train, casting a pall on the trip. Sleuth Craig, back in London, is happy to forget the episode until a call from Colonel Renton takes him to Fawchester, shortly before Ruth Adamson is murdered. There Craig's research on the Colonel's behalf turns up some startling information, which casts a new light on the purported suicide. Old acquaintance Detective Chief Inspector Raymond Franklin does his thing, but it's Craig who breaks the case. The story's well-engineered plot and surprising windup are undermined by flatly drawn characters and a plodding narrative style. Still, this one's a definite (if not scintillating) improvement on Gray's previous work.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Doubleday