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Stiff News Hardcover – January, 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Detective Inspector C.D. Sloan of the Calleshire Constabulary and his sidekick Detective Constable Crosby (After Effects, 1996, etc.) investigate possible murder at a nursing home in the new, very British, mystery from Aird. Following the death of Gertrude Powell, one of the home's residents, Gertrude's son Lionel receives a letter on the day of her funeral insinuating that she may have been murdered. Further investigation reveals that all of Gertrude's correspondence is missing. Most of the residents of the nursing home have known each other since WWII as members or family of the Fearnshires Regiment. None, however, seems to be able to explain the apparent secret of Gertrude's second marriage, let alone the circumstances of the woman's death. This isn't Aird's strongest showing. Her prose is literate as always, but character development is weak. The action only slogs along, except toward the end, when one resident disappears from the home and the search is on as the two detectives bring past and present together in a surprising conclusion.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A British regimental retirement home plays "host" to a murderer. After receiving a troubling letter from his recently deceased mother, a man alerts Inspector C.D. Sloan (After Effects, LJ 8/96). An entertaining procedural for all collections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 227 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr (January 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312200234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312200237
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,729,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
No one would expect murder to occur to any of the residents of the Almstone Manor rest home for the Fearnshire regiment and their families. Anyone living at the home already suffers from bad health and death would be from natural causes. This holds true for Gertrude Powell until her son receives a posthumous letter from her, stating that someone has been trying to kill her.
Callehsire Detective Inspector Christopher Dennis "C.D." Sloan and Detective Constable Crosby begin to investigate Gertrude's missive by trying to halt her funeral. The two law enforcement officials soon learn that the residents of Almstone have known each since W.W.II. Though it initially appears to be the ramblings of a very sick elderly person, five-decade old grudges remain, but are they strong enough to push someone into committing murder?
Catherine Aird is renowned for her witty, British police procedurals starring Sloan (see A GOING CONCERN). However, her current entry, STIFF NEWS, seems to fall short of her previous tales as the story line takes too long before finding its rhythm and the secondary cast never evolves into real characters. Still, Ms. Aird's ability to write keeps her novel from total collapse and Sloan remains an interesting protagonist. The news on this book is that it is a bit stiff, leaving readers who want Ms. Aird at her best to try any of her previous works. Sloan fans will both enjoy and be disappointed by Sloan's latest case.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
Aird is a new writer for me. I am always pleased to find new British mystery writers as they tend to write in a way that I can enjoy. As another reviewer stated, this book is very tongue-in-cheek, but it has to do with a topic I am currently involved in in bioethics; the concept of who controls when a person lives or dies. this is an ongoing argument at the moment. In the U.S. we tend to err on the side of caution, and feel that when a person's 'time' is up should be left to 'God' or 'fate.' In Europe, in Great Britain, and especially the Netherlands, this determination is being 'made' for people by their families or by society, who I don't feel has the right to make that type of judgement call.

Sloan, a rather weary detective is called into a care facility because a woman dies. This elderly woman writes a letter and has someone on the staff mail this letter upon her death...and she out and out states that she has been murdered. Sloan, and his sidekick Crosby (who is a terrible driver!) never do determine whether this one woman was among those in this care facility whose time was determined for them by someone else, whether a family member anxious to get their paws on the family money, an over-zealous nurse or medical personnel on the staff, or some other person for some other reading. But basically the question is raised that no matter who determines when a person should live or die is a murderer. I am not sure that this is the wishful thinking of this reader or whether Aird (there is a Scottish name for you) herself feels this way towards those who would play the part of God.

The writing is concise and compact. Aird wastes no words and yet she manages to get in plenty of snide remarks. At some places you almost feel as if there should be a drum-roll for the crack being made. How nice to find a new and interesting British mystery writer!

Karen Sadler
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Format: Paperback
As in all her books, this one is cleverly and wittingly written. No one quite has Ms. Aird's style. It is truly unique in the genre of British detective fiction. She has sharp dialogue and carefully drawn characters, and her books almost make the reader feel they are partaking of a guilty pleasure because of her sly wit and slightly naughty "tongue-in-cheek" writing. In this book Sloan and Crosby are called out to a Senior's manor. No one seems surprised that a sick old lady has died, except the lady herself. She had made arrangements to have a letter sent to her son saying that she was afraid of dying not a natural death. By the time Sloan and Crosby are on site at the manor it appears that something very wrong has been going on there. It's one of the most puzzling cases of Sloan's career, and he finds that he has to delve into the past to unmask the murderer.
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Format: Hardcover
I welcomed the return of C.D. Sloan and even the lead-footed Crosby, and I was quite intrigued by the mystery; however, the thread seemed to fizzle out and the denouement left me cold. It all seemed much ado about nothing. An enjoyable read for fans of this sleuth, but newcomers to Aird should read some of her older books. My personal favorite is "A Most Contagious Game". It does not feature C.D. Sloan, although it is laid in Calleshire and mixes a delightful historical mystery with a modern one in masterful fashion.
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