A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Kathleen L. Maio:


PATRICIA MOYES – A Six-Letter Word for Death.

Collins Crime Club, UK, hardcover, 1983. Holt Rinehart and Winston, US, hc, 1983. US paperback reprint: Holt/Owl, 1985.

PATRICIA MOYES Sex Letter Word for Death

   In the late Fifties, as many of the Golden Age masters of the British mystery were retiring or expiring, new blood (so to speak) entered the field. Many of the younger generation turned their hands to more realistic mystery forms, but a few novices stayed with the old ways and true.

   Such a writer is Patricia Moyes, whose dedication to the classic British puzzle has been a comfort to cozy fans since Dead Men Don’t Ski (1959).

   A Six-Letter Word for Death is but the latest in a long-running series featuring Chief Superintendent Henry Tibbett of Scotland Yard and his wife, Emmy. It is a classic country-house mystery set on the Isle of Wight. A publisher invites a group of pseudonymous mystery authors called the Guess Who for a weekend house party.

   Meanwhile, Henry (invited as guest expert and lecturer) has received a series of clues by mail crossword-puzzle sections indicating that the party guests may an have skeletons in their closets. When murder follows, Tibbett’s investigation intensifies to a classic, if overly melodramatic, confrontation with suspects and murderer.

   Moyes manages to poke a bit of affectionate fun at mystery fiction and its creators. She also creates a traditional tale much more satisfying than some of her recent work set in the West Indies. Moyes takes a touch of the police procedural, a dash of the husband-and-wife mystery/adventure, and creates a very pleasing product in the style of the Golden Age.

   A Six-Letter Word for Death is one of Moyes’s best mysteries of the last ten years. Other notable Tibbett cases are Murder a La Mode (1963), Johnny Under Ground (1965), and Seasons of Snows and Sins (1971).

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.