RogerBW's Blog

Exit the Milkman, Charlotte MacLeod 10 January 2020

1996 comic mystery; tenth and last of MacLeod's novels of Professor Peter Shandy. Peter's neighbour Jim spends most of his evenings at Fraternal Brotherhood meetings to avoid his horrible wife Mirelle; but he doesn't come back, and soon murder is afoot.

Mirelle was one of the major characters in the first book, 1979's Rest You Merry, and made rare appearances thereafter, but she's never been particularly well-developed, and here she's if anything less so. She is horrible to everyone at all times, most people don't bother to speak to her because they know they'll just be insulted, and… yeah, OK, I suppose there are people like that but not very many and they're not interesting to read about.

The repetitiveness of this book doesn't help, though: one particular incident is recounted in detail three times (once while it's happening and twice more when it's being explained to people), and most of the major events are mentioned at least twice. The plot does just about hold together, though one villain is entirely too heavily foreshadowed and another has no clues pointing to him at all. (And there's an inconsistency in the description of the contents of a forensic report: something that would give away a major point is simply reported differently, by someone who has no reason at all to lie about it, and this is never mentioned again.)

Bits of this work really quite well, better than the flabby novels that preceded The Odd Job, but it's most definitely the later MacLeod's usual comic mystery style in spite of harking back to characters from the earlier books.

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Previous in series: Something in the Water | Series: Professor Peter Shandy

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