cover image Bertie and the Seven Bodies

Bertie and the Seven Bodies

Peter Lovesey, Author Mysterious Press $25 (208p) ISBN 978-0-89296-399-7

When a killer stalks a dinner-and-gameshooting party on an English country estate, the corpses drop like pheasants. High-living Albert Edward (``Bertie''), Prince of Wales, who made his detective debut in Lovesey's Bertie and the Tinman , is the fumbling sleuth and rakish narrator, loosely modeled on the real-life prince who became King Edward VII. Bertie discovers that the nursery rhyme ``Monday's child is fair of face . . . '' holds the key; each line of the poem points to the next victim. Among the dwindling group of party guests, one of whom is the murderer, are an Amazon explorer, a stuttering poet and a scheming actress. Half the fun of this romp lies in watching Bertie invent, then discard, one theory after another; for a while his suspicions even fall on the widowed hostess he wants to bed. The other half comes from Lovesey's light mockery of Victorian manners and sexual mores in a bright, entertaining tale whose bantering tone conceals artful plotting. (Jan.)