THE BAD SAMARITAN by Robert Barnard


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There's lots of gossip among the members of Church of England's St. Saviour's parish when Rosemary Sheffield, longtime wife of Paul Sheffield, the vicar, lets it be known that she has lost her faith in God. More rumors fly when Rosemary spends a few reflective days at a seaside inn and someone reports a man seen leaving her room. True, but innocent. Rosemary has taken a sympathetic, motherly interest in young Stanko, a Bosnian refugee working illegally as a waiter at her hotel. When he turns up at the parish weeks later, she and the vicar manage to get him work and lodging at a local pizza parlor. The nasty gossip has died down, vanquished by Rosemary's forthright confrontations, and all appears peaceful--until the night of St. Saviour's annual spring party. In its aftermath, the body of shady, sexy Stephen Mills is found stabbed to death in a nearby park, and Stanko, who had earlier delivered pizzas to the party, is nowhere to be found. Superintendent Mike Oddie and Detective Constable Charlie Peace (A Hovering of Vultures, 1993, etc.) soon uncover the connection between Stanko and Mills, but there are other undercurrents at work that lead to the cleverly twisty solution and lend a bit of pizazz to a rather bland story, more psychologically than mysteriously oriented. Literate and readable, as always with Barnard, but without the spark and sparkle that grace his best work.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Scribner