Despite its goofy plot, cast of caricatures, digressions and lack of suspense, MacLeod's lively mystery lampoon set in coastal Maine, where she lives, will surely please her myriad fans. Jasper Flodge, a loutish dinner guest at Bright's Inn, abruptly expires onto his recently cleaned plate of chicken pot pie and is pronounced dead of cyanide poisoning. The only other diners at the time are Peter Shandy, professor of botany at Balaclava Agricultural College and unofficial ``sleuth-for-all-seasons,'' who was seen most recently in An Owl Too Many , and elderly Claridge Withington, an avid amateur horticulturist who reminds Shandy of the Ancient Mariner. Shandy proceeds to unravel a devious scam involving unloved, miserly Flodge, the flamboyant woman claiming to be his widow, and two others. He figures out the murderer and the suitably loony method. But he nevers solves the mystery that has drawn him from his native Massachusetts to Maine: Why do the lupines growing in the rocky soil of nearby Rondel's Head bloom so gloriously? And what keeps their nonagenarian nurturer, Frances Rondel, so spry? MacLeod has good sport with the laconic reputation of Maine residents, but this arch humor, no matter how fond, will likely appeal most to MacLeod followers. Mystery Guild selection . (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994 Release date: 04/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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