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Murder in Mayfair, A (Missing Mysteries) Paperback – September 25, 2002
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Colin Pinnock is an up-and-coming junior minister in the Prime Minister's new government, excited about his post and pleased with the recognition he's beginning to attain. His complacency is shattered by the arrival of a cryptic and anonymous letter, which suggests that he is not who he thinks he is. Veteran crime writer Barnard (A Scandal in Belgravia, The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori) presents the solution to the central mystery early on, as Pinnock learns that in all likelihood he is the son of a notorious British nobleman who disappeared after impregnating the family nanny and killing his wife.
Mixing facts and surmises based on a true-life London murder of the 1980s with a fictional hero whose search for the truth about his origins is nicely limned and expertly paced, Barnard delivers another winner for his many fans. The development of the relationships between Colin and his half-siblings is well described, and the denouement offers just enough surprise to classify this elegant novel under "mysteries, British." --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Shortly after accepting a junior ministerial post in the Labor government that came to power in the last British general election, MP Colin Pinnock receives a postcard bearing the stark question: "Who Do You Think You Are?" As this literate mystery thriller unfolds, it becomes clear that the author of this cryptic message is less concerned with Colin's getting above himself than with his looking into his origins. Learning that he was adopted causes Colin scarcely a jolt, but it's quite another thing to discover that his real father might have been Lord John Revill, who disappeared in 1962 after apparently murdering his wife. By all reports, Lord John had been having an affair with his children's sexy Australian nanny. At 35, Colin is just the right age to be the offspring of this illicit liaison. Barnard, an eight-time Edgar Award finalist, presents a sympathetic protagonist and a compelling human tale with his customary subtlety and economy. Revelations, each more or less surprising, arrive at regular intervals, while the big questions--what was really going on in the Revill household before the murder and who is sending Colin increasingly serious threats--are fully answered only at the end. The good characters are all thoroughly decent chaps, while at the climax the villain, who is more mad than bad, pulls out a knife, not a gun. This understated British melodrama is as comforting as a nice cuppa. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It opens in May 1997 the day after New Labour has been returned to power in the UK following 18 years of Conservative government.The narrator is Colin Pinnock a Labour MP who is designated a junior minister in the Department of Education.He receives a note thrust under the door of his London apartment aking the stark question "Who do you think you are?
It prompts him to undertake a search for his family origins which lead back to a minor sixties political scandal.This is clearly modelled on the real life affair of Lord Lucan who went missing after allegedly killing his wife.
In the book the Lucan figure is Lord Revill who vanished after killing his wife and conducting an affair with his children's nanny.Research uncovers that Pinnock is the illegitimate child of the liasion between Revill and the nanny and there are other ,less welcome suprises lurking round the corner as he delves deeper into the case .These include a stalker,an assailant with a knife and other relatives emerging from the woodwork.
Barnard has tackled political themes before (see Political Suicide)and his view of politicians stops some way short of idolatory.He makes some sharp observations about our political lords and masters and his disillusion with the present adminstration comes through loud and clear
Well and clearly written with compassion and warmth this a good book and merits reading by devotees of the British crime novel
Mr. Pinnock was clearly born to the role of Junior Minister but the charm of the book is the way Barnard gives Pinnock the person a chance to rise to the level of Pinnock the politician. Maybe Barnard could have worked a bit more on the plot to add a little suspense here and there but by doing so he might have upset the flow of a lovely little (murder) story. A very enjoyable read from beginning to end. Another vote for Barnard.
On his first day at the job, his "boss" Margaret Stevens is stunned because Colin looks just like Lord John Revill who vanished in 1962 after allegedly killing his wife. Colin knows he was adopted and begins a search for his roots.
A MURDER IN MAYFAIR is an entertaining thriller that centers on the real identity of the lead protagonist (or for that matter, anyone). The story line is crisp and filled with unexpected surprises that never reveal the climax. The characters are intriguing, especially Colin. The villain is crazy, but does things at the end that seems a bit loose. Still, Robert Barnard shows his talent to hook an audience from the start and keep them interested until the novel is finished.
Read Barnard's other political mysteries -- Scandal in Belgravia and Political Suicide -- first, and then this one.