cover image Murder at Madingley Grange

Murder at Madingley Grange

Caroline Graham / Author William Morrow & Company $17.95 (295p

A game of murder in an English country house appears headed for the real thing in this lumbering attempt at a romp. Simon Hannaford and his sister Laurie are left in charge of their aunt's estate near Oxford while she travels abroad; to settle some debts, Simon decides to sponsor a murder-mystery weekend for well-paying guests. Those who sign on include mystery aficionado Derek Gregory; his wife, Sheila; and snooty Mrs. Laetitia Saville with her daughter Rosemary, who are appalled by the wealthy but common gypsy family Gibbs--Fred, Vi and Mother Gibbs. It soon appears that everyone at Madingley Grange has arrived with ulterior motives, including the temp-service staff who are casing the place with an eye to burglary. When Derek is chosen victim, much to his voluble distaste, and then is found actually murdered the next day, Simon and Laurie's problems really begin. While Graham ( Death of a Hollow Man ) does give us the outline of a classic country house mystery, this is not Wodehouse-meets-Christie material, lacking the essential wit and complexity of both masters. Mystery Guild alternate. (Jan.)