Thu 27 Sep 2012
William F. Deeck
DOROTHY GARDINER – The Seventh Mourner. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, October 1958. Popular Library, paperback, 1964, as The 7th Mourner.
Sheriff Moss Magill, of Notlaw, Colo., population 415 counting two unborn babies and home of the third worst hotel in the country, is left $100,000 in the will of a late citizen of Notlaw — though her death does not seem to deplete the population — if he will escort her ashes to Scotland and bury them on top of a mountain.
For reasons not made clear, Magill is not interested in the money and does not want to go to Scotland. However, the stipulations in the will lead him to believe, again for reasons not made clear, that one or more of the legatees might be murdered if he doesn’t.
Magill is an engaging character and worth meeting despite his not preventing murder. In addition, Gardiner presents the Scottish Highlands lovingly. But more should have been done with Magill’s culture shock, and the mystery aspect undoubtedly could have been handled better. For example, the villains are obvious and witless.
Enjoy Magill and the scenery and try not to pay too much attention to the plot.
The Sheriff Moss Magill series —
What Crime Is It? Doubleday 1956.
The Seventh Mourner. Doubleday 1958.
Lion in Wait. Doubleday 1963.
Editorial Comment: Considerably more about the author and a complete crime fiction bibliography for her may be found following my review of The Trans-Atlantic Ghost, her first book, written in 1933. (Be sure to read the comments, too.)