cover image Lestrade and the Brother of Death

Lestrade and the Brother of Death

M. J. Trow. Gateway Editions, $19.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-89526-268-4

Trow has made a fine art of taking Conan Doyle's much maligned Inspector Sholto Lestrade and making him the protagonist of a witty series. In the spirited, albeit corny opening scene to his latest adveture, the accident-prone Lestrade survives a fall from the upper deck of the Titanic as it is slipping out to sea. ""Was it the weight of his moustache? The cut of his bowler?--something had caused the crosswinds to catch him and he plummeted over the side."" Lestrade spends the remainder of the book battling crime and the wheelchair he's confined in almost equal measure. His recuperation from a broken leg is less painful than it could have been, thanks to the tender care of his fianc e, Fanny Berkeley, the daughter of his old friend Chief Constable Tom Berkeley. Upon Lestrade's arrival at the Berkeley estate, the first murder of his convalescence practically lands in his lap when the constable's butler is killed in an apparent hunting accident. Lestrade believes someone is out to kill the constable, and his uneasiness sharpens when he receives a disturbing anonymous letter. Lestrade's investigation starts a long and complicated chain of events that leads into his past as he tries to get a handle on rapidly unfolding current events, which turn out to have everything to do with his own life. He confronts some uncomfortable truths about himself, but the darker insights are balanced by slapstick and uninhibited puns and wordplay in a winning, well-crafted puzzler that offers sophisticated plotting and a playful look at Edwardian manners. (Nov.)