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MURDER &  SULLIVAN by Sara Hoskinson Frommer


by Sara Hoskinson Frommer

Pub Date: May 18th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15595-6
Publisher: St. Martin's

Oliver, Indiana, is now home to widow Joan Spencer and her college student son Andrew (Buried in Quilts, 1997, etc.). Joan is director of the Senior Citizens' Center and plays viola in the town's symphony orchestra, which is doing Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore at Oliver College. The cast—students and townspeople- -includes local Justice David Palmer, whose little daughter had been saved by Joan in a recent tornado. Also backstage are carpenter Zach Yoder and his boss Virgil Shoals, both heavily involved in repairing tornado damage—such as Joan's torn-up porch and the next-door house of elderly Henry Palmer, David's uncle, whose fall through a floor put him in the hospital. It's two weeks after the tornado when, on the opening night of Ruddigore, David Palmer is found stabbed to death and Joan's policeman friend Fred Lundquist has to find someone with opportunity and motive among the dozens of people involved in the production. He makes heavy weather of it, too, especially after the autopsy shows the use of two weapons—the knife in Putnam's back being found not the cause of death. The investigation falls into limbo until Joan stumbles on what she thinks is a vital clue, sending out signals that mark her as the killer's next victim. Ardent Gilbert and Sullivan followers will enjoy the Ruddigore replay, but puzzle fans will find little to admire here in the dull characters, repetitive details of investigation procedure, endless domestic trivia, and clumsy plotting.