UP AND DOWN by Mat Coward


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“Beans” is what they all called Arthur Jones because that's what he planted: runner beans, bread beans, French beans, nothing but beans. Though the unabashed beanophile could be regarded as legitimately eccentric, was that any reason to do him in? One wouldn't think so, yet there he lies, poor lifeless Arthur, in a ditch, a lethal pitchfork through his throat. At this melancholy juncture his colleagues—the other allotment gardeners in that north London suburb—raise a bemused chorus. It's true, Beans could be a mite difficult on occasion, they tell Constable Frank Mitchell and his boss D.I. Don Packham, but there was no real harm in the old codger. This is information of rather dubious value, the detectives feel, since it's clear that no one but one of Arthur's gardening mates could have gained access to him the night he died. So what secrets could Arthur have been hiding that made him someone's bitter enemy? Was it a nugget or two gleaned by the beanmeister about local history, his other area of expertise? Mitchell and Packham begin to dig, and soon discover that some of what was planted in Arthur's garden was never meant to be unearthed.

Moody Packham and moodless Mitchell might make an interesting odd couple of sleuths if the series continues beyond its debut. For that to happen, however, the author will need to energize his plotting. This one's like watching grass grow.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7862-2541-6
Page count: 246pp
Publisher: Five Star
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2000


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