The Manx Murders: A Professor Niccolo Benedetti Mystery

William DeAndrea, Author O. Penzler Books $20 (233p) ISBN 978-1-883402-66-2
Even if Niccolo Benedetti, professor and self-styled expert on ``Human Evil,'' often seems to be an agile, Mediterranean Nero Wolfe, this series remains notable for the ingenuity of DeAndrea's plotting and the quiet assurance of his prose. This latest case, following The Werewolf Murders , features several odd birds. The twin Pembroke brothers have lived all their lives together in rural Pennsylvania, amassing a fortune and occasionally feuding. Clyde loves bird watching; Henry raises and breeds tailless Manx cats. Both loved the same girl once, but Henry married her, and now his son Chip is building up an ice cream empire. The brothers have invented an air-cleaning device, but Clyde, whose beloved birds have fled the family estates (where a mysterious grape odor lingers in the still, birdless air), stands in the way of its manufacture. The mystery of the missing birds becomes the case of the abducted brother and then the case of the dead secretary. Niccolo, who also paints and likes to embellish his witty utterances with the occasional Italian flourish, does the intellectual digging, while PI Ron Gentry and his psychologist wife, Janet, take care of the grunt work. The threesome makes a charming team in this agreeably nutty case. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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