cover image Adverse Report

Adverse Report

Gerald Hammond. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (172pp) ISBN 978-0-312-02858-9

Irascible, opinionated gunsmith Keith Calder ( The Worried Widow ; The Executor ) continues his feud with local police in this delightful mystery that introduces a bemused Englishman to the colorful residents of the Scottish countryside. Mystery writer Simon Parbitter inherits a house near Newton Lauder (near the English border) when his uncle, George Hatton, is killed in a hunting accident. When Parbitter flees a London heat wave to inspect his new property, he finds that while the police and the sheriff write off the death as an accident, Calder, a friend of Hatton's, maintains he was murdered. After Calder is injured in a suspicious road accident, he inveigles Parbitter into taking over the investigation. Parbitter meets the locals, learns a lot about guns (to his dismay, he discovers that he's been writing about them incorrectly), acquires a hunting dog and a girlfriend and finds himself in the middle of another wrongful-death case, involving a young policeman and a jewel robbery. By novel's end, Calder is vindicated, the murderer is caught and Parbitter is ready to shift his life from London to Scotland. Hammond deftly builds his characters using a light touch; his firm sense of place and time unveil Scotland through the eyes of a newcomer. ( July )