ffb: The Case of the Missing Brontë

this is the 131st in my series of posts on forgotten or seldom read books

The Case of the Missing Brontë by Robert Barnard © 1983, this edition Dell 1984 mass market paperback – mystery, police procedural featuring Scotland Yard Superintendant Perry Trethowan

almost finishedRobert Barnard wrote many mystery novels, a large portion of them stand-alones, but he did several featuring Scotland Yard Superintendant Perry Trethowan. I had only read some of the stand-alone novels, and for this single author Friday Forgotten Book day read another of them, Out of the  Blackout. While it had an interesting plot, it didn’t engage me with a mystery, a crime to be solved in the normal crime fiction way. So I decided to try this Trethowan novel.

After a visit to the family, Trethowan and wife are returning home. A minor auto malfunction forces them to stay overnight in a village, and later in the pub they talk with an interesting old woman, Mrs. Wing, who claims her sister’s estate, now hers, includes a manuscript that may possibly be an unpublished Brontë manuscript. Hearing that Perry Trethowan  is from Scotland Yard, she askes him what she should do with this item. His suggestion is to take it to a Brontë expert.

The car is fixed and off home the Trethowans go. Soon after, Perry gets a call from the local constables asking him to come take over a case. Mrs. Wing has been severely beaten, her home ransacked. The suspicion is that word of the Brontë manuscript had got out and was the cause of the crime. Manuscript must be recovered, criminal must be caught.

This is a soft police procedural, a somewhat cozy approach through most of it, though some bad things happen in the final chapters, and I don’t mean getting scalded with hot tea. I really enjoyed the humor in this mystery, I wasn’t expecting it and that made it even better. The next time I’m looking for a Barnard novel to read, it will be one of the Trethowan books.

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More Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s fine blog Pattinase

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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9 Responses to ffb: The Case of the Missing Brontë

  1. I think Barnard did his best work in the 1980s. I have to be in the Right Mood to enjoy Barnard’s wicked humor.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I had little succes getting involved with two or three of the Trethowan books by Barnard. I prefer the ones with Charlie Peace and Mike Oddie (there is at least one with Peace and Trethowan) or the two John Sutcliffe books, which involve London politics, or the historical ones and the short stories, which are mostly quite short and very pointed.

  3. cgramlich says:

    I’ve not read many of the British mysteries. I’m not a mystery person in general. Good to know there are plenty more books out there for me to read

  4. prettysinister says:

    As Sergio meitoned in his review Barnard has a peculiar sense of humor and it appeals to my own offbeat, irreverent sense of humor. The book I re-read (though to be honest I didn’t remember a nything about it as I was going along) was very funny, too. He’s one of the few writers of any genre who can make me laugh out loud much to the annoyance of the people on the bus I take to work.

    Merry, merry and all that jazz, Rick to you and yours!

  5. Must admit Richard, the Trethowan series are not actually my favourites from Barnard’s work but I should re-read this – in fact I just wan to just re-read all of them really after Patti’s great celebration!!

  6. Richard says:

    I’d only read stand-alone novels (I think) so this ws a nice change for me. I need to try some of the other series.

  7. Kelly says:

    Barnard’s dark humor isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it’s very much to mine. I’m not much for cozies or traditional mysteries usually, but that wicked streak makes me like his.

  8. Peggy@Peggy Ann's Post says:

    Looks like I am going to have to get this book and try it. The three I’ve read are stand alones and to be honest I wasn’t to impressed by any of them. Of the three I did like Out of the Black the best. I like a more traditional type mystery and I do love humor in them too so maybe this one will change my mind on Barnard.

  9. Richard, thanks to Patti’s Robert Barnard special, I got introduced to a fine author and I look forward to reading more of his books. I like the premise of this mystery. Which of the Bronte sisters does he refer to?

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