W. J. BURLEY – Wycliffe and the Dunes Mystery. Wycliffe #19, St Martin’s, hardcover, 1994. Published first in the UK: Gollancz, hardcover, 1993.

   This has been an “old reliable” series for me, which is kind of amazing when you consider that it’s reached #19.

   Fifteen years ago, the troubled and troublesome son of a prominent Member of Parliament went missing while on a walking holiday in Cornwall. Now a dog scratching in a dune has uncovered his body, and he proves just as troublesome dead as alive – for six local people (three mixed pairs) who spent a wild weekend 15 years ago, then for Wycliffe (who gets bashed in the head), and finally for a nosy landlord who is forcibly assisted from this vale of tears. The still-influential father of the dead youth provides Wycliffe with a matching pain in the other end of his anatomy.

   If you know Burley and Wycliffe, you know what to expect. If you don’t, you’ll find a solidly constructed plot, good Cornish background, interesting characters, and a well-told story. All these are present here, but for some reason I didn’t find the whole to be anything exceptional. I don’t think Burley can write a book I won’t enjoy – at least he hasn’t yet – but this isn’t his best.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #14, August 1994.


BIBLIOGRAPHIC UPDATE: Burley was to write but one more in the series, that being Wycliffe and the House of Fear (Gollancz, 1995). There was a British TV series based in part on the books entitled Wycliffe (1993-1998) as the cover image above would indicate, but none of the episodes seem to be based on this book.