cover image Bellringer Street

Bellringer Street

Robert Richardson. St. Martin's Press, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-01734-7

Winner in 1985 of England's Crime Writers Association award for the best first crime novel, Richardson delivers a second elegantly stylish, witty and tense mystery. Events start in the country town where playwright Augustus (Gus) Maltravers and his actress lover, Tess Davy, visit their friends Susan and Peter Penrose. On a tour of the local stately home, Edenbridge House, Gus and Tess are accompanied by the gracious heir, Lord Dunford; they are as startled as he at the discovery that the skeleton of a medieval ancestor is missing. When Dunford is killed later, the couple obey their sleuthing instincts and consider clues to the case. Susan Penrose had behaved oddly at a gathering with the victim, Tess recalls although she defends her hostess; Gus reflects on the lord's seeming disturbed by the arrival of handsome young Luke Jordan; both the amateur detectives discuss the obvious fears of Joanna York whenever her husband, Alister, approaches. Then there is the affair of the stolen skeleton and its place in the puzzle. It fits, eventually, as Gus and Tess work craftily in secret to hoist a dastardly villain on his own petard, most satisfactorily. A splendid, delightfully atmospheric tale that readers will relish. (August)