RogerBW's Blog

Vane Pursuit, Charlotte MacLeod 24 April 2019

1989 mystery; seventh of MacLeod's novels of Professor Peter Shandy. After the town's soap factory burns to the ground, it seems likely that the arson was cover for the theft of an antique weather vane.

Well, it says "mystery" on the cover, but MacLeod seems to have gone out of her way to avoid anything of the sort: it is made absolutely clear just who the villains are the instant they appear, and the only slight element of detection is in working out the details of their scheme. There's comedy, and action, but nothing on which to exercise the deductive powers.

So Peter Shandy goes off to visit a friend who has another of the vanes, and finds himself fleeing from ruffians and helped by a woman who's living elegantly rough on the land that she might eventually inherit; and his wife Helen goes to visit a different friend, and finds herself dumped overboard from a whale-watching boat as it's stolen by more of the ungodly. It's quite fun, but all that's in the first half of the book, and the second half slows down rather as the two meet again, share information, and finish off the case.

Still, and the reason other than stubbornness that I'm carrying on with my plan to read all of MacLeod, the writing is always competent, and characters are usually amusing even if too readily divided into Good and Bad. This is slight and comedic "mystery" which won't I think captivate anyone, but nor does it leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Followed by An Owl Too Many.

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Previous in series: The Corpse in Oozak's Pond | Series: Professor Peter Shandy | Next in series: An Owl Too Many

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