AN ARCADIAN DEATH by Roderic Jeffries


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Another low-keyed outing with Jeffries's doggedly amiable Mallorcan policeman, Inspector Enrique Alvarez (Death Takes Time, 1994, etc.). This time, miserly old Beatriz Ruig has been found dead in her bedroom, with door and window locked from the inside. She and her family had been landowners in the fertile Canegot Valley for generations; its sharecroppers, in fact, were still bringing Beatriz half their earnings. The investigation turns up a blow on the dead woman's head, and Alvarez finds a surprising paucity of cash in the neglected house, as well as evidence of dealings with crooked stockbroker Leslie Sale. Questioning of valley elder Frederico Ferrer and his dim-witted neighbor, Alberto Pujol, reveals the presence on the island of Beatriz's nephew Nigel Mason, along with the occasional visits of a Renault 5, soon traced to Englishman Bernard Tait, a con man pursuing both Beatriz's land (for resale value at outrageous profit) and rich, aging, vapid Mabel Owen. Alvarez, working at his usual unhurried pace and, also as usual, infuriating his pompous superior, slowly fits the pieces together, but it takes another death to uncover a powerful, unsuspected motive and complete the puzzle. The author's acerbic, often funny take on expatriate Brits; his clear-eyed but sensitive view of Mallorcan history and present-day life and his ever-charming sleuth himself make for a quietly compelling read.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1996
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: St. Martin's