Picks and Pans Review: The Dirty Duck

UPDATED 06/04/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/04/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Martha Grimes

A group of wealthy Americans is on a tour in Stratford, England, when they begin to die in a particularly grisly manner. A Jack the Ripper-style slasher, who uses a razor, leaves a rhyming couplet beside each bloody corpse. The author's hero, Richard Jury of Scotland Yard (who has appeared in three previous Grimes novels), just happens to be in town from London. All the characters are caricatures, and the Americans, detested by the British, are awful people who use deplorable grammar. Despite the violent deaths and a lot of nonsense about Shakespeare and the murder of Christopher Marlowe, the author understands that her primary job is to entertain—and she does that well. Her characters have endearingly silly names; one is introduced with, "Fiona Clingmore was dressed today in what should have been a negligee, but was apparently a summer dress...Fiona had topped 40 a couple of years ago, Jury knew, but she was going down fighting." Those fans who admire the British-style murder tale will not be at all disappointed in this elaborately plotted farce. (Little, Brown, $14.95)

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