The Mother Shadow

Melodie Johnson Howe, Author Viking Books $16.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-670-82602-5
This gem of a mystery introduces the improbable sleuthing duo of Maggie Hill and Claire Conrad, reminiscent of Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin. Thanks to Howe's stylish writing in the hard-boiled tradition, it is both gripping and entertaining, with wonderfully vivid characters and a deft plot abounding with twists and turns. Acting as secretary to wealthy Ellis Kenilworth, 35-year-old, divorced ex-writer Maggie Hill witnesses the drafting of a codicil to Ellis's will bequeathing his rare coin collection to someone outside the family, Claire Conrad. Ellis asks Maggie to keep the sole copy of the codicil while he lunches; he then kills himself, leaving Maggie, with the codicil in her purse, to discover the body and a suicide note. Later, when both note and codicil disappear, Maggie visits Claire Conrad and learns that the elegant eccentric, who dresses alternately in black or white and sports a walking stick, is a renowned detective. Together, the women, aided by Claire's debonair butler/bodyguard, Boulton, penetrate the miasma enveloping the Kenilworth clan, where they encounter duplicity, heinous secrets and murder. In a class by themselves, Maggie and Claire promise a smashing series. Literary Guild alternate. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
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