A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Susan Dunlap:


ROBERT BARNARD – The Case of the Missing Brontė. Hardcover edition: Scribner’s, 1983. Reprinted in paperback several times by Dell: 1984, 1986, 1989. Penguin, paperback, November 1994. First published in the UK: Collins Crime Club, 1983, as The Missing Brontė.

Missing Bronte

   This is the third novel featuring Superintendent Perry Trethowen of Scotland Yard. It begins with the detective and his wife returning from a visit to his very peculiar aristocratic family (who are displayed to fine advantage in Death by Sheer Torture, 1981).

   Their car breaks down in a small village, Hutton-Le-Dales, and since they must spend the night there, they do the true British thing — they go to the local pub. No sooner do they settle in than an elderly lady accosts them and announces that she has inherited what appears to be an unpublished manuscript of a novel possibly authored by one of the Bronte sisters. And no sooner do they leave town than the woman is attacked and the manuscript stolen.

   Trethowen returns to Hutton-Le-Dales, delighted to be associated with literary matters rather than being thought of only as the policeman with the kinky family — something that happens all too often. His investigations lead him to an unholy preacher (trained in Los Angeles!), the professors of a local last-resort college (here Barnard, a professor himself, is delightfully scathing in his caricatures), and book collectors from two continents, to say nothing of a pair of Norwegian toughs.

   Characters in a Barnard book rarely have flattering things to say about each other — and for good reason. Trethowen views humanity with a disdainful eye, which makes for much wary humor. The plot of The Case of the Missing Brontė is solid, and the book-collecting background intriguing.

   A two-time nominee for an MWA Best Novel Edgar, Barnard has written such other delightful novels as Death of a Mystery Writer (1979), Death of a Literary Widow (1980), Death and the Princess (1982), and Out of the Blackout (1985).

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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.