THE CHALON HEADS: A Kathy and Brock Mystery
In this riveting, if flawed, British police procedural, Maitland (The Malcontenta) serves up a plot so deviously complicated it's sometimes hard to follow. Scotland Yard's Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla and Chief Inspector Brock investigate the kidnapping of Eva, the wife of wealthy philatelist Sammy Starling, a specialist in stamps displaying the young Queen Victoria and called Chalon Heads. (The dust jacket, depicting a stamped envelope of Victorian vintage, is sure to draw stamp collectors.) Sammy, who was a key witness in a police scandal several years earlier, receives ransom notes with rare Chalon Head stamps glued on the pages and hence made worthless. The final ransom note demands a unique Canadian philatelic item, which is to be sold at auction. After Sammy buys and delivers it, he receives a grisly, if thematically fitting, present. The subsequent autopsy is not for the squeamish. Suspense builds as the fraud squad enters the case, while the author's psychological insights into his characters add further interest. The ending crowds together several long and surprisingly articulate confessions, one by a woman who had been incoherent only minutes before she tells all. Readers may wonder just who did what to whom. Although parts of the narrative read as though written at different times and stitched together with the seams showing, Maitland's intricate tale never fails to grip. 5-city author tour.(Sept. 12)
FYI:Born in Scotland and raised in London, John Creasy Award nominee and Ned Kelly Prize winner Maitland now lives in Australia.