Kill the Butler!

Michael Kenyon, Author
Michael Kenyon, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (221p) ISBN 978-0-312-08833-0
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Kenyon's latest antic Henry Peckover mystery brings the Scotland Yard detective across the pond and out to Long Island, where wealthy octogenarian Lou Langley has been struck and killed by a speeding pickup truck outside his mansion. Who was responsible? Family members lead the suspect list: the feisty 79-year-old widow Millicent, two married daughters and their husbands, one a heavy drinker and the other in dire financial straits. A codicil to Langley's will leaves the house to the caretaker, a British historian whose latest research buttresses the dead man's theory that, 50 years earlier, President Roosevelt knew well in advance of the Japanese plan to attack Pearl Harbor. The local police hit upon the ludicrous, though highly entertaining, notion of placing an English cop in the household, impersonating a butler as he investigates. Enter Henry, fresh from a crash course in butlering, armed with too many serving trays and the name Jarvis, and soon in need of help from his sidekick, Constable Twitty. Though the premise is absurd and much of the characterization caricature, Kenyon ( A Free-Range Wife ) mines plenty of laughs from the cultural and linguistic clashes in this latest adventure for the continually harassed Peckover. (Feb.)
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