The Doctor Digs a Grave) third Dr. Fenimore mystery offers a long and rambling adventure with few surp"/>
 

THE DOCTOR AND THE DEAD MAN'S CHEST: A Doctor Fenimore Mystery

Robin Hathaway, Author
Robin Hathaway, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-26956-2
Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
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Set in southern New Jersey's farmlands, Hathaway's (The Doctor Digs a Grave) third Dr. Fenimore mystery offers a long and rambling adventure with few surprises. While going to see some wetlands property he's unexpectedly inherited, the physician/investigator meets an elderly patient, Lydia Ashley, who's been beset by pranks and other more serious threats since refusing to sell her ancestral farm to a purported landfill company. In a nod to Robert Louis Stevenson (whose Treasure Island is evoked in the awkward title), the author introduces local lore about treasure maps and rumors of buried plunder, predictably all centered on Mrs. Ashley's decrepit estate. Fenimore encounters hosts of possible suspects, including disagreeable farmhands, a grouchy librarian and a nervous headmaster needing more playing fields for his boys. These and other suspicious characters meet at assorted social events, making it easy to compare their personalities and motives. Much of their conversation is clichéd and uninteresting, and Fenimore, like the reader, is glad when these parties are over. Minor violence occurs when the doctor's assistant sleuth, nurse Doyle, is briefly kidnapped and roughed up, but most of the story is bland, with many short chapters and an untaxing plot. Eventually, the scene shifts to the Philadelphia suburbs, home to some of the more socially prominent suspects. An implausibly happy epilogue features a wedding and even some Christmas caroling among the Jersey mudflats. Agent, Laura Langlie.(Nov. 12)

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