Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Free-Range Wife by Michael Kenyon

I am attracted to British writing in much the same way I am attracted to a British accent. I go all aflutter inside. While American male heroes tend to be silent and brooding, British male heroes tend to be funny and endearing.

The hero of Michael Kenyon’s novel is a big brute of a guy who loves to write rhyme almost as much as he loves to solve mysteries. Detective Chief Inspector Henry Peckover of Scotland Yard is on holiday with his chef-wife, Miriam, in Mordan, France. While she is working as chef at the Chateau de Mordan, he is enjoying his French holiday until he is told to interview an interested party for the Yard.

In “Thin Man” fashion, Peckover combines work and play, weaving his way around suspects, victims, and the French Police to find a murderer. When he realizes all the victims have one thing in common, Detective Chief Inspector Henry Peckover takes a closer look at the American femme-fatale, Mercy McCluskey. What he finds is a surprise indeed.

Since I am a great fan of the “Thin Man” movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy, I can’t help but love the character of Detective Chief Inspector Henry Peckover. He has the same self-effacing, inquisitive humor. I marvel at how he manages to find the next clue. The inspector’s habit of giving his reports to the Yard in sonnet sequence is only surpassed by the Yard’s expectations of receiving them in that form. How have they put up with him this long?

He must be really good at what he does.

I will be reviewing other books by Kenyon. I’d forgotten how enjoyable he is to read.

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