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Another homicidal British farce from actor-novelist Shaw (Murder Out of Tune, 1988) unfolds the bizarre complications that follow long-suffering Mark Harvey's murder of his detestable wife Maddie. Mark, an assistant bank manager slowly suffocating in backwoods Fareham, has turned his cuckolding by wimpy Roddy Maclean into a game by constantly catching Roddy and Maddie in flagrante--but when Maddie trashes the trophy the Civil War Re-enactment Society gave Mark for a model soldier, he attacks her, and, finding she's dead, waits for his inevitable discovery. It's quite a while before Maddie's missed, though: The Harveys' suicidal lodger Roger Jones says goodnight to her corpse and keeps taking her phone messages; Mark successfully masquerades as Maddie to nearsighted Roddy both over the phone and in person; and, after Mark realizes that he really enjoys dressing up as a new, improved Maddie, he catches the roving eye of his contemptible social-climbing neighbor Reg Talbot. Running away from Reg's house to avoid defloration, Mark, the world's unlikeliest Cinderella, leaves a shoe behind--a shoe that will propel the plot to new heights of zaniness (entangling Mark with two rival yellow journalists, a TV exposÉ, and, inevitably, another murder) and revealing more and more unsuspected depths to Shaw's puppets without ever telegraphing the ending: Will Mark get pinched, or will Maddie's avengers continue to prove even more incompetent than he is? Effervescently nasty--like Patricia Highsmith with a laugh track.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1992
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Doubleday