cover image Guilty Party

Guilty Party

Marian Babson / Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (182p) ISBN 9

Veteran mystery writer Babson ( Fatal Fortune ) again produces a literate, suspenseful tale. Frail American artist Leonora Rice arrives in Little Woadpit-by-Marsh intending to ``bury herself in a quiet English village, where she knew no one and no one knew her.'' She wants to work on pictures for an exhibition offered her by a West End gallery, but her peace is shattered by disquieting events and the strange behavior of tenants of Cosgreave Hall, the gardener's cottage of which Leonora has leased. There is the sudden illness of Eddie, rich American husband of Bunty, daughter of Lady Cosgreave; a fire at Cosgreave Hall; and the discovery of a body in the bushes outside Leonora's cottage. The body may be that of Horton, the hated former gardener, but Lady Cosgreave and her eccentric tenants try to persuade Leonora that she has imagined the whole thing. Leonora's only ally is Annabel Hinchby-Smythe, of whom Lady Cosgreave observes, ``One day of Annabel's gin consumption would lay Miss Marple out under the table for a month.'' Leonora and Annabel crack this neat, witty sophisticated puzzle in eminently satisfactory fashion. (Dec.)