The tense counterpoint between Thackeray’s and Mower’s inner struggles and outward strivings enriches Hall’s latest...


Sending Bradford’s Detective Chief Inspector Michael Thackeray (Dead on Arrival, 2001, etc.) to a training course at Oxford to help him heal from his latest trauma—the ambush of two of his detectives—may not have been Superintendent Jack Longley’s best idea. In the ivy-covered courtyards of St. Frideswide’s, his latest demons, left in the wake of Detective Constable Rita Desai’s death and the mental collapse of her partner, DC Kevin Mower, merely provide company for the earlier demons of Thackeray’s unhappy college years, which culminated in the suspicious death of Liz Selby, one of the first six women admitted to Oxford. And now Hugh Greenaway, Friddies’ master, wants Thackeray to look into the disappearance of Mark Harrison, a tutor who decamped, his latest lover in tow, along with several graduate students’ unfinished theses. Thackeray remembers Harrison as a college-mate who tormented him for his Yorkshire accent and bookish ways. He also remembers Harrison’s wife Penny, then a rosy undergraduate, now a gaunt wraith who begs him to investigate not only her husband’s departure but the heroin death of their son, ruled an accidental overdose in an all-too-dismissive inquest. As Thackeray pursues crimes in high places, a teetering DC Mower plumbs the lower depths, searching the council flats of Bradford’s western edge to discover who raped and beat 12-year-old Kelly James, left to prowl the pubs Saturday night while her 20-something mother entertained herself with her latest boyfriend.

The tense counterpoint between Thackeray’s and Mower’s inner struggles and outward strivings enriches Hall’s latest procedural.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2002

ISBN: 0-312-28208-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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This ran in the S.E.P. and resulted in more demands for the story in book form than ever recorded. Well, here it is and it is a honey. Imagine ten people, not knowing each other, not knowing why they were invited on a certain island house-party, not knowing their hosts. Then imagine them dead, one by one, until none remained alive, nor any clue to the murderer. Grand suspense, a unique trick, expertly handled.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 1939

ISBN: 0062073478

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dodd, Mead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1939

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The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.


In Archie Goodwin's 15th adventure since the death of his creator, Rex Stout, his gossipy Aunt Edna Wainwright lures him from 34th Street to his carefully unnamed hometown in Ohio to investigate the death of a well-hated bank president.

Tom Blankenship, the local police chief, thinks there’s no case since Logan Mulgrew shot himself. But Archie’s mother, Marjorie Goodwin, and Aunt Edna know lots of people with reason to have killed him. Mulgrew drove rival banker Charles Purcell out of business, forcing Purcell to get work as an auto mechanic, and foreclosed on dairy farmer Harold Mapes’ spread. Lester Newman is convinced that Mulgrew murdered his ailing wife, Lester’s sister, so that he could romance her nurse, Carrie Yeager. And Donna Newman, Lester’s granddaughter, might have had an eye on her great-uncle’s substantial estate. Nor is Archie limited to mulling over his relatives’ gossip, for Trumpet reporter Verna Kay Padgett, whose apartment window was shot out the night her column raised questions about the alleged suicide, is perfectly willing to publish a floridly actionable summary of the leading suspects that delights her editor, shocks Archie, and infuriates everyone else. The one person missing is Archie’s boss, Nero Wolfe (Death of an Art Collector, 2019, etc.), and fans will breathe a sigh of relief when he appears at Marjorie’s door, debriefs Archie, notices a telltale clue, prepares dinner for everyone, sleeps on his discovery, and arranges a meeting of all parties in Marjorie’s living room in which he names the killer.

The parts with Nero Wolfe, the only character Goldsborough brings to life, are almost worth waiting for.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5040-5988-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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