The Bad Samaritan

Robert Barnard, Author Scribner Book Company $20.5 (233p) ISBN 978-0-684-81334-9
Dispensing with his tendency to peddle clunky social commentary in the guise of broad farce, veteran Barnard (Death of an Old Goat) employs detectives Mike Oddie and Charlie Peace to deliver as fine and as nuanced a mystery as we are likely to see all year. It's not hard to understand why Rosemary Sheffield, a vicar's wife near Leeds, misplaces her faith: she has to contend with a pompous son, a congregation full of rabid gossips and a scheming lothario in charge of the church's records. So she takes a much-needed powder to a seaside resort and there befriends Stanko, a young Bosnian refugee working as a waiter. When he later shows up at the vicarage, she finds him a job making pizza in town, after which things quickly unravel when a member of the congregation is killed. Peace is the nominal star of this tale, but Rosemary and her husband's diverse flock bring it to life as Barnard puts them under a narrative microscope that would do nongenre writers of the caliber of Penelope Lively and Margaret Drabble proud. Peace needs both his humanity and his cunning to crack the case, which involves bad marriages, organized crime and the smuggling of Eastern Europeans into England. Barnard, seldom less than excellent, has rarely been this masterful. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4391-6804-2
Hardcover - 315 pages - 978-0-7862-0563-9
Paperback - 220 pages - 978-0-14-025730-4
Analog Audio Cassette - 6 pages - 978-0-7531-0046-2
Paperback - 202 pages - 978-1-4472-3961-1
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-4391-5526-4
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