cover image Hand in Glove

Hand in Glove

Robert Goddard. Bantam Books, $21.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-75070-1

Stiff, archaic dialogue and an overreaching plot that snakes from contemporary England back to the Spanish Civil War makes this lengthy novel of psychological suspense by Goddard ( Debt of Dishonor ) slow going. The action begins with the murder of 85-year-old Beatrix Abberley, canny sister of England's poet-warrior Tristam Abberley, who died a hero in the Spanish Civil War. On Beatrix's death, four packets of letters revealing a predictable hoax, some depressing truths and a treasure buried since the 1930s are mailed to persons unknown. The dead woman's schoolmarmish niece Charlotte Ladram and bumbling Derek Fairfax, upright brother of an ex-con framed for the murder, set themselves to solving the puzzle of these events. With cardboard characters--a womanizing American biographer, mousy Charlotte and her brassy sister-in-law Ursula--and a string of handy coincidences, Goddard, who signals nearly every twist his story takes, delivers a mediocre effort. Paperback rights to Pocket. (Jan.)