Coign of Vantage, Or, the Boston Athenaeum Murders: Or the Boston Athenaeum Murders

John J. McAleer, Author Foul Play Press $16.95 (273p) ISBN 978-0-88150-093-6
Biographer Austin Layman is pleased, if not wholly flattered, by an invitation to join Boston's exclusive Carttail Club, a bastion of eccentric Brahmins. At a dinner given to honor the elderly Thistlewaite twins, a mystery develops: Were the recent deaths of three club members accidental or intentional? When a fourth member is found with a solid gold, ceremonial porcupine quill embedded in his heart, a verdict of murder is most certainly suggested. Help and hindrance comes from all corners as Layman traces the violence back to a distant scandal, the evidence of which is neatly packed into a file kept on the shelves of the Boston Atheneum. McAleer has drawn together a promising batch of odd characters and set them down firmly on the ever so proper, cobblestone streets of Boston. Unfortunately, their patter is so uniformly arch that the intended satire quickly loses its punch, and the rather muddled collection of clues becomes much less important than sustaining the burlesque. The author is well known for his nonfiction, which includes biographies of Emerson, Thoreau and Dreiser. (April)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1988
Release date: 04/01/1988
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