The more gracious the home, the worse the crime in this anthology by a who’s who of mostly golden-age writers.

MURDER AT THE MANOR

Let the guest beware in these 16 reprinted stories, spanning roughly 65 years, set in British country houses.

None but Sherlock Holmes could figure out why a governess’s duties include wearing a specific dress in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Copper Beeches.” In Dick Donovan’s “The Problem of Dead Wood Hall,” a tiny bluish scratch on each of two murder victims is the only indication of foul play. “Gentlemen and Players” features E.W. Hornung’s Raffles in a witty blend of cricket and thievery, and a falling diamond bracelet upsets a desperate plan in W.W. Jacobs’ “The Well.” In G.K. Chesterton’s “The White Pillars Murder,” a notable detective’s protégés learn the difference between listening and hearing, and Ernest Bramah combines an ancient family house, an ancient family curse, and very ancient Druidic ruins in “The Secret of Dunstan’s Tower.” J.J. Fletcher’s “The Manor House Mystery” offers three different solutions to a country magistrate’s murder. A debt-ridden man almost gets away with murder in J.J. Bell’s “The Message on the Sun-Dial”; “The Horror at Staveley Grange” is a haunted room where Sapper (H.C. McNeile) introduces two healthy men who died of heart failure. Anthony Berkeley presents a dead body that disappears twice from a thicket of trees in “The Mystery of Horne’s Copse,” and James Hilton’s “The Perfect Plan” is an almost perfect murder. What should be a hostess’ social triumph ends in humiliation in Margery Allingham’s “The Same to Us.” E.V. Knox’s “The Murder at the Towers” sends up the classic amateur detective who solves the murder of the most disagreeable of houseguests. A nurse spends a night of terror in Ethel Lina White’s “The Unlocked Window”; Nicholas Blake exposes a long-held family secret in “The Long Shot”; and a greedy husband and wife ruin far more than their own lives in Michael Gilbert’s “Weekend at Wapentake.”

The more gracious the home, the worse the crime in this anthology by a who’s who of mostly golden-age writers.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0573-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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