DIE-CAST by Neville Steed

DIE-CAST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Steed's newest is so charmingly told that you'll forgive it its grade-B movie plot. As with last year's Tinplate, antique-toy dealer Peter Marklin narrates with a warm insouciance and a love of subject as contagious as Dick Francis'. Here, Peter, Arabella, and Gus the incorrigible are called upon to solve the murder of Ben Maxwell--ex-Grand Prix driver, drug aficionado, and reconciled (through blackmail) husband of American movie star Lana-Lee Claudell. Who bashed in his head, cracked his jaw, and, for good measure, gouged out his eye? Spurned lover Lavinia Saunders? Her elderly magnate hubby? Lana-Lee or her lover, local squire Adam Longhurst? Or something else, such as the ghostly apparition that pops hither and von and even makes ghoulish phone calls? Reluctantly applying his intuition, under the auspices of Inspector Trevor ""Sexton"" Blake, Peter discovers two culprits--one wishing to frame Lena-Lee; the other demanding retribution for a dead daughter via ritual maiming, fanatical folderol, and the kidnapping of Lana-Lee's eight-year-old Tara-Lee. Meanwhile, there's master craftsman Mr. Muir (or is it Wall?) creating a brass prototype of the deHavilland Flamingo Airliner of 1940 for Peter's new collectibles business, as well as malevolent, tortured Christ figures for churches and his own home. The strands intertwine, though none too gracefully; and justice prevails, but Peter's new venture sails off the cliff, literally. Wonderful reading, with a lovely bit of writing and engaging hobbyist chitchat; but Steed's nemesis is turning out to be overblown plot scenarios.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's