cover image Carriage of Justice

Carriage of Justice

Gerald Hammond. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-13941-4

In a departure from the dour Scots hunting tales narrated by taciturn gun expert Keith Calder, this newest adventure is recalled by Calder's more earthy brother, Ronnie, whose ribald prose is then edited, sanitized and italically interrupted by Calder's daughter, Deborah. Ronnie tends to the estates of a local laird and is clearly a master of all the associated trades--hunting, fishing and drinking scotch. The nominal crime at the heart of the novel is the supposed suicide of a crooked car dealer, one that left an impoverished widow and gobs of missing loot. Ronnie happens upon a former employee of the dead man and, with the aid of Deborah's copper husband, the case is conveniently reopened. Keith is relegated to the background, which is too bad. Deborah is incessantly schoolmarmish, and her uncle is little more than a one-note blowhard, who is allotted more good sex, good whisky and easy clues than he deserves. Although Ronnie's narrative does have moments of undeniably effective lowbrow wit, Hammond (Sting in the Tail, etc.) doesn't quite master the thin line between dull and droll. (Jan.)