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by Peter Lovesey
Soho Press, June 2005
320 pages
ISBN: 1569473927

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Bob Naylor, a widowed driver for Parcel Force, is convinced by his teenage daughter to join the Chichester Writers' Circle. He doesn't want to, since he only writes doggerel verse for amusement, but his daughter, in the way of teenagers all over the world, keeps at him until he goes out of self-defence.

Chair of the group Maurice McDade and indeed, the other members of the group, a varied bunch, are all very friendly and welcoming. Bob remains unconvinced, but then Maurice is led away by police on suspicion of murder. He is accused of murdering Edgar Blacker, a shady publisher, who dies when an arsonist sets his home on fire.

Maurice is released but then he is re-arrested and some of the circle members decide they must find who really did it because they all assume that Maurice could not have been the culprit. Blacker had agreed to publish McDade's book, and then, when the project was well under way, and the book was supposed to be delivered, Blacker told Maurice that he needed 5000 in order to finish publication. Blacker was running a vanity press!

The local homicide investigators are not doing a very good job, so Chief Inspector Henrietta Malin is called in to oversee the team. After a second death (and a third arson attempt) she has all the members of the circle brought in for questioning. At the first meeting Naylor attended, all the members discussed their work, if they had any, and read portions thereof. The police question each person about their relationship with Blacker, who had spoken at a meeting before Naylor joined, and some tidbits of information about each emerges.

Lovesey is a master at characterization and plotting. This was a difficult review to write because in order to do justice to the book, this reviewer would have to give too much of the plot away. But there are some laugh out loud moments. The book is worth reading if only for Bob Naylor's doggerel.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, March 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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