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
Robert 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 Wing, who claims her sister’s estate, now hers, includes a manuscript that may possibly be an unpublished Brontë manuscript.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