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by Peter Tremayne
St Martin's Minotaur, December 2005
352 pages
ISBN: 0312342284

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

AN ENSUING EVIL AND OTHERS is a collection of 14 British and Irish historical mystery short stories by Peter Tremayne. The settings for the stories run from the 7th century to the 21st and are located from India to England and Ireland to an airplane in flight. All are stories of murder and how different sleuths solve the crimes.

There are Shakespearean-related stories, including one mystery where MacBeth (Tremayne explains the spelling at length) is in charge of solving a murder from within his family and castle, to a couple of murder mysteries set during the time of Shakespeare's popularity at the Globe Theater. A Constable Hardy Drew solves those murders. Yes, the name comes from modern sources well known to fledgling sleuths.

A ship on the high seas in the middle of a battle during the Napoleonic Wars is the location for a story of a ladies' man and his murder. We have one where Charles Dickens and his son-in-law are the sleuths in charge. There are five Sherlock Holmes mysteries with brother Mycroft, Professor Moriarty, and his friend and Holmes's second most evil adversary, Colonel Moran.

Following that comes a classic type mystery set in India dealing with a posh dinner party and the theft of a cursed ruby investigated by the Bengali Indian detective Ram Jayram. Then on to a murder in a locked bathroom in an airborne airplane, and the collection ends with Peter Tremayne's popular Sister Fidelma in a story of love and deception set in 7th century Ireland.

These stories all begin with at least one page of dry historical background information to underline the fact that they are historical mysteries. Most of the stories had been previously presented separately in other publications, so there are many repeated pages of information in stories with the same characters and it's enough to bore the readers to tears. Personally I don't think Sherlock Holmes would have been so ashamed of his being of Irish extraction as to warrant his making such a point of hiding his background, but Tremayne feels very strongly about his theory and so has it in each of his Sherlock pastiches.

The book is uneven at best, and some stories barely qualify as a mystery. Others seem to be more of a way for the author to repeat some sort of a classic mystery set-up, like dinner parties and locked rooms, using a random historical setting. Those are solved with little effort, both by the sleuths in the story and by the readers. Yet a few, like A Study In Orange includes wonderful twists and turns, which all fit perfectly within its specific historical context.

As stated in the introduction, AN ENSUING EVIL AND OTHERS is mainly a way for author Peter Tremayne to prove that he has more stories in him than just his popular Sister Fidelma series. This collection is more for fans of Tremayne than for fans of good solid mysteries.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, February 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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