A Going Concern

Catherine Aird, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-11423-7

Intricate, witty and thoroughly delightful, Aird's latest case for Chief Inspector C. D. Sloan and Constable Crosby probes a death with roots in WW II biochemical research. Eccentric, elderly Octavia Garamond has left a will directing that the police be present at her funeral and that her doctor examine her body very closely after her death. These odd requests perplex those involved, notably the deceased's only known survivor, Amelia Kennerly, who is named her great-aunt's sole executor. Further questions are raised when Octavia's home at the Grange, Grand Primer, Calleshire, is thoroughly tossed right after her death; when the local parson expresses some reluctance to preside at the funeral; and when two chemical companies engaged in a takeover battle seem somehow connected to Garamond's demise, which is eventually attributed to a poison worthy of Agatha Christie. As Sloan tracks a money angle, Amelia traces a child born out of wedlock in 1940. In the end, these and related mysteries are handsomely resolved and Aunt Octavia turns out to have been mad only ``north-north-west'' and fully capable of knowing ``a hawk from a handsaw'' right unto her end. Peopled with a cast that aptly and frequently quotes Shakespeare, this tale is a literate, surprising treat. (Sept.)
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