Supt. Richard Jury’s 20th case begins as the shaggiest of shaggy-dog stories, moves through a critique of quantum mechanics and ends in a truly mystical realm.
In a London pub, a stranger named Harry Johnson tells Jury (The Grave Maurice, 2002, etc.) a story that isn’t really a story. Nine months ago, physics professor Hugh Gault lost his whole family when all three of its members—his wife Glynnis, their autistic son Robbie and their dog Mungo—vanished during the middle of a house-hunting trip to Surrey. Though Hugh hired detectives, there was no sign of any of them—until recently, when Mungo suddenly popped up. The story, as Harry points out, isn’t complete because the riddle lacks an ending or an explanation, and Jury, his curiosity piqued to the point of obsession by the clues Harry teasingly doles out, can’t supply them. Neither can his aristocratic friend Melrose Plant or the rest of his whimsical hangers-on, though they duly ponder the puzzle—Melrose even goes as far as taking a trip to Tuscany to meet the owner of one of the houses Glynnis was to visit—and ask questions. The answers, when they finally come, have less to do with the wheels of justice than with superstrings, Gödel’s incompleteness theory and Schrödinger’s cat.
Even fans who can’t appreciate the passing strangeness of this truly special adventure will be won over by a precocious little girl and a dog of rare intelligence.