Down the Garden Path: A Pastoral Mystery

Dorothy Cannell, Author St. Martin's Press $14.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-312-21869-0
Cannell's second mystery boasts the effects that made her The Thin Woman a delicious debut. Brimful of surprises, the story related by Tessa Fields gives off whiffs of Restoration comedies, except for the sobering moment when a murder abruptly halts the fun. Until then, the reader is delighted to let the author lead on ""down the garden path,'' where Tessa thinks she's leading her hostesses, elderly Primrose and Hyacinth Tramwell. In collusion with her beloved, Harry Harkness, Tessa pretends amnesia in hopes that the sisters will let her rest in the Cloisters, the Tramwell estate since the days of Henry VIII. Tessa believes the mansion holds the secret of her birth, possibly as the illegitimate infant of an absent Tramwell relation. The young woman's snooping is complicated by her hostesses' butler (named Butler) and housemaid Chantal, an intellectual gypsy. At a neighbors' soiree, Hyacinth and Primrose reveal themselves as card sharks, bringing a good friend of Tessa's to the Cloisters to remonstrate with them. Tessa's suspicions of the sisters seem valid when someone strangles the man and she learns that they have been only pretending to believe in her masquerade. The killing, an unfortunate and unnecessary plot departure, is no real deterrent to enjoying an otherwise robust tale of intrigue and true love. December 26
Reviewed on: 12/02/1985
Release date: 12/01/1985
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-553-26895-9
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-14-026623-8
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