The Case of the Missing Bronte by Robert Barnard
|The Case of the Missing Bronte by Robert Barnard|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Police procedural set in the early eighties, which relies just a little too much on coincidence - and the fact that the Superintendent's wife is a better detective - for my liking, but it's a reasonable light and quick read.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: May 2016|
Superintendent Perry Trethowan was returning to London from Northumberland with his family when their car broke down in the Yorkshire Dales and they were stranded in a small village for the night. When they had a drink in the local pub they were joined by a local resident, Miss Edith Wing, who had what might be an extraordinary document in her possession. Could this be a lost Bronte novel? The provenance of the manuscript suggested that it could well be genuine, but was it - and Miss wing - the real thing or was it a very clever forgery? Perry suggested visiting a local expert for an opinion and in doing so sends Miss wing into mortal danger.
Just over twenty years ago a back problem saw me systematically reading through the crime section of the local library, starting at the letter A, so it wasn't long before I encountered Robert Barnard, a reasonably local author, and I enjoyed his police procedurals, particularly those featuring Charlie Peace or the ones set in or around Leeds The Case of the Missing Bronte is a little different, particularly in that its main settings are fictional locations and Perry Trethowan, Northumbrian by birth, is actually working at Scotland Yard, and I'm afraid that I couldn't really believe in him.
The story is set in the early eighties: the Prime Minister is a woman, but the miners have not yet been tackled head on. Phone boxes abound and policing is just a little casual: the rule book seems to be advisory rather than mandatory. When Miss Wing is brutally attacked and the manuscript disappears Trethowan is sent by the Yard to investigate. I wasn't convinced by that, or by the way that the superintendent seems to do most of his own leg work, if you disregard the useful leads which he gets from his wife, who does seem to be the better detective. The story relies a little too heavily on coincidence.
Suspend disbelief though and you have a reasonable story. With only 162 pages of text it's more of a novella than a novel, but a remarkable amount of action is crammed into the pages. There's quite a lot of dramatic tension in the story, but not a lot of suspense - it's fairly obvious as to who is responsible for what's happened and if you're looking for a book to get the brain cells working overtime then this is probably not the one for you. On the other hand if you want a light and easy read then it could fit the bill.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
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