cover image Mrs. Craggs: Crimes Cleaned Up

Mrs. Craggs: Crimes Cleaned Up

H. R. F. Keating. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (220pp) ISBN 978-0-312-53506-3

British author Keating is the creator of that wonder of detectives, Inspector Ghote, and it would take a detective of his ilk to find something of value in these insubstantial stories. Each is a few pages long, allowing no time for development of either plot or character. Instead, we are given Mrs. Craggs, a vaudeville version of a cockney charwoman who, when she is not dusting, is causing quite a dust-up in the houses of the well-born by finding a great many dead bodies on the premises. Aided by the terribly twee Mrs. Milhorne (her very own Watson), Mrs. Craggs instantly arrives at each murderer's name and motive, confounding both Scotland Yard and the reader with her lightning conclusions. She gets so good at this that at one point she solves five crimes in five stories using only one of her five senses for each crime. Nonsense. (August)