CORRIDORS OF DEATH by Ruth Dudley Edwards


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After a slow, verbose beginning (Edwards at first seems to be parodying the droll, baroque style of some 1930s Britishers), this becomes a pleasantly talky, old-fashioned whodunit--with informative satire of politician-vs.-civil-servant tangles in Whitehall bureaucracy. The victim, found dead in the 27th floor men's room after a high-level conference (bashed with a statue), is loathsome Sir Nicholas Clark, Secretary of the Department of Conservation. And, as Detective Supt. Milton of Scotland Yard soon learns (working in chummy tandem with Robert Amiss, Sir N.'s private secretary), there's no shortage of suspects on the scene: virtually all the Department officials (civil servants and M.P.s) had been humiliated or sabotaged by Sir N. Furthermore, union leader Martin Jenkins (also at the conference) was having an affair with Lady Clark. And Sir N.'s son--whose homosexuality had recently become a source of angry quarreling--also happens to have been on the premises. Yes, that's a few too many motives for credibility; and the final revelation--which comes after two more deaths--isn't very satisfying. But Edwards manages to humanize her large, bureaucratic cast of characters; both cop Milton and sleuth Amiss are engaging chaps; and the crisp details on everyday governmental pettiness and stupidity lift this neat debut a good bit above the middling-British-mystery level.

Pub Date: May 5th, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's