Picks and Pans Review: The Habit of Widowhood
by Robert Barnard
Page-Turner of the Week
THERE'S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO fleece an old goat. In fact, merry widows Maria Halliwell and Marcia Catch-pole, two of the femmes fatales in this deliciously malicious short story collection, demonstrate quite a dizzying array. Of course, every now and then the intended prey proves to be a wolf—and then the game gets really interesting.
Transforming seeming patsies into predators, and innocents into murderers, are but two of the tricks Barnard—a veteran British mystery writer celebrated for his devious plotting and devilish humor—shows off in these 17 inventive stories. His varied narrators range from the dissolute Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, in "Balmorality" to the apparently unpedigreed canine who offers his account of a murder in "Dog Television," with a surprising appearance by Jane Eyre in "Reader, I Strangled Him." But regardless of the trappings, there's one thing you can count on: Just when you think you've figured out what Barnard is up to, he'll outfox you again. (Scribner, $21)
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