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by Katharine Farrer
Rue Morgue Press, November 2004
190 pages
ISBN: 0915230739

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Inspector Richard Ringwood has settled into domesticity with his new wife, Claire. One morning as they read the paper over breakfast, he notices the obituary of Sir Alban Worrall. The part of the obituary that stuck out was the fact that the author obviously did not like Worrall.

It was somewhat flattering but overall seemed to be a chance for the author to air his grievances about Worrall. Worrall was an infamous figure in the archeological world for numerous reasons -- the biggest that he used his money to find the digs and take the credit. This type of behavior creates a lot of enemies and animosity.

The next day there is a letter providing a different opinion regarding Worrall. This response is much more flattering and respectful. Ringwood finds the situation intriguing especially when the second obituary writer, Janet Coltman, is left for dead in a back alley. Janet was part of Worrall's final expedition in Corfu. She is alive and should recover, but someone thinks she knows more than she should.

While Ringwood has no information regarding the dig, it is apparent that something happened that everyone would like to keep quiet. In addition, it seems likely that Worrall's death was due to murder rather than natural causes. Ringwood must piece together the truth from the lies and twisted truths told by the dig's members in order to find the murderer before he strikes again.

As in most books that were written in the 1950s (and earlier), there are certain elements in this book that are troublesome to the modern reader. While Richard and Claire seem very happy, she takes a backseat in their relationship. Even though she has a degree from Oxford, little attention to paid to her intelligence. Richard does make use of her skills as a woman to get secrets out of his female suspects, but he treats her more like a trained pet than a person. The ironic thing is that both Claire and Richard seem to think that they have an equal partnership when in fact they do not.

I do not know if Farrer's intention was to be ironic or if she really did believe that their relationship was ideal. I will admit that my concern with this part of the book is due to my own education and upbringing. Farrer's intended audience would have viewed this relationship from a different perspective than my own. It is irrational to expect an author that wrote 50 years ago to be in touch with the modern societal norms; however, it can be frustrating when they do not.

THE CRETAN COUNTERFEIT is the second book in the Inspector Richard Ringwood trilogy. Rue Morgue's publication is the first US edition of this story.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, February 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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