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by Stuart Pawson
Headline, January 1997
320 pages
$out of print
ISBN: 0747248974

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There's almost no crime that is more difficult to deal with than that involving a child, particularly one that goes missing. When 8-year-old Georgina Dewhurst is kidnapped, her father, successful businessman Miles Dewhurst, frantically calls the police. He has been approached with a ransom demand and is frantic about getting his daughter back. The case is assigned to Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Priest, and his investigation uncovers many bits and pieces that don't quite add up.

At the same time, it appears that there is a serial killer on the loose who is targeting clergymen. The distinguishing link between the deaths is that the perpetrator leaves a picture of a "destroying angel" mushroom near the body. Naturally, the killer needs to have a catchy name, and the police come up with "The Mushroom Man", almost a slap at the villain who signs the pictures as "Destroying Angel". What is interesting is that the reader knows that the first victim was killed accidentally and is not part of any serial killer scenario which makes it all the more mystifying as to why the murderer would claim credit for that death.

The narrative played out very well, with well-placed red herrings and excellent pacing. I did feel that Pawson didn't play fair with the reader as far as giving enough information to determine who the killer was, which was my only disappointment with the book. The Mushroom Man was a superb reading experience on every other count. Charlie Priest is a wonderful character who I think will be among my favorites as I read more of this series. He has a decidedly bent sense of humor which lightens the tone of the narrative considerably. He is also a lonely man who has fallen head over heels in love with a woman by the name of Annabelle. His pursuit of her is touchingly na´ve, with Charlie acting almost like a shy schoolboy rather than a man with any romantic experience.

Many of the books in this series are hard to find, but it is well worth the effort to locate them. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, November 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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