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Lestrade and the Magpie (The Lestrade Mystery Series) Hardcover – March 14, 2000

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Penzler Pick, July 2000: Not all Sherlock Holmes pastiches are created equal. Some directly plunder the canon for their plots, re-imagining famous cases as Holmes and Watson didn't experience them. Others discover slight allusions to create adventures "that might have been." Some go for humor, others aim at dash. Most ape the original transmitter of the stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in tone and temper, style and setting, as well as they can. All the good ones honor the sublime originals. If they didn't, I certainly would not write about them.

M.J. Trow is an Englishman who has won a growing following for his novels that make sideways use, as it were, of the Sherlock Holmes roster of immortal characters. Taking the unusual name "Sholto" (from a character in the second Holmes adventure, The Sign of Four), Trow combines it with the figure of the bumbling Scotland Yard inspector, Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes's frequent bête noire, to give modern readers a cockeyed re-envisioning of the early 20th-century mystery of manors. And manners, too.

Think Monty Python, with all the wickedly witty erudition that implies, and then try to imagine that troupe in charge of a season of Mystery! Trow makes his Lestrade uxorious (he has a devoted wife, Fanny) and a doting father, to boot. In Lestrade and the Magpie, the now retired Superintendent Lestrade finds himself faced with a case in which his daughter's missing-in-action fiancé (WWI is over and the year is 1920) has turned up murdered in a London hotel room. But where had he been during those intervening three years, since the war office sent its official telegram?

Bernard Shaw, the Irish nationalist hero Michael Collins, Lawrence of Arabia, the sexologist Havelock Ellis, the Russian pretender Anastasia, and the very late Marie Antoinette all have some part in the action. For Sholto Lestrade, who narrowly missed sailing on the Titanic and who is surely bound to wind up in Queen Mary's bedroom after taking a wrong turn in Buckingham Palace, history is what serves as the backdrop to his life. Near-ceaseless wordplay, continual lashings of highbrow whimsy, and a steady stream of literary in-jokes keep Trow's readers on their toes. If the plots are twisty (and they are), even more delightfully convoluted is the author's mind. Let's just be glad there are no quizzes afterwards. --Otto Penzler

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this 10th volume in the Lestrade Mystery series, a reporter visiting Scotland Yard notices a sepia photo of an assistant police commissioner, Major Sir E.F. Wodehouse, whose vexed expression seems to deny "knowledge of anyone called Jeeves or Wooster." It's not only from this that one might conclude that Trow is trying to follow as much in the tradition of the great English humorist as he is in the footsteps of Conan Doyle. In 1920, the murder of his daughter Emma's fianc?, a WWI aviator, draws Inspector Sholto Lestrade out of retirement. The body count quickly mounts. Lestrade and Emma go underground to investigate the killings of a female cousin of playwright George Bernard Shaw, a Belgian diplomat, a Russian sailor and a Bedouin who's found dead in full desert dress on Hampstead Heath. Gags, snickering asides and allusive in-jokes abound, while various celebrities of the day--from Shaw to Irish nationalist Michael Collins--rush in and out of the action. The problem is that these characters, both imaginary and historical, are mere cartoon figures. Unlike P.G. Wodehouse and Doyle, Trow is too busy cracking jokes to invest his characters with any real humanity, and Emma's fianc?'s death and her later kidnapping scarcely register as tragedies. The result is burlesque on the order of Benny Hill. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Lestrade Mystery Series
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway Editions; First American Edition edition (March 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895262894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895262899
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,158,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Mr. Trow. please write another one. Lestrade is my age now and I know he still has the stuff. anyone else reading this review please start at the beginning of the series.
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