The Morbid Kitchen

Jennie Melville, Author
Jennie Melville, Author Minotaur Books $20.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-312-14681-8
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
Paperback - 284 pages - 978-0-7862-0642-1
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-312-29172-3
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-7490-0424-8
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This flat British mystery is set in Windsor where, 10 years earlier, a student at an exclusive school was decapitated and two teachers disappeared. The case remains unsolved, the school closed. Now, in order to sell the building, Emily Bailey, sister of the school's late headmistress, must re-open the basement kitchen, sealed after the child's body was found there. She asks series protagonist Chief Superintendent Charmian Daniels (Whoever Has the Heart, 1994) to accompany her, and they discover a mummified adult body and a child's head in a cabinet. The case is reopened. More decade-old corpses are discovered and identified; old rumors of sexual shenanigans at the school resurface; Emily disappears; a police informant is murdered. Clever Charmian pulls together the strands of evidence, identifying the surprise villain who tries, unsuccessfully, to kill her. The book's charming setting and varied characters--from cops with troubled personal lives to two witches, neighbors of Charmian and her new husband, Humphrey--deserve better than Melville's formal dialogue and lackluster narrative. (Dec.)
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