CHARLOTTE MacLEOD – Rest You Merry. Professor Peter Shandy #1. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1978; Avon, paperback, 1979, 1988. Otto Penzler Books, hardcover, 1993.

   Charlotte MacLeod is the find of the year for this reviewer. Although this mystery has a Christmas season setting, don’t wait for Christmas to read it. Peter Shandy, professor at Balaclava Agricultural College, co-producer of the Bacalava Buster – a giant rutabaga – and of Sprightly Sieglinde — a fast-growing viola — is a top-notch addition to the ranks of chuckle-stimulating amateur detectives.

   After Shandy has over-decorated his home in a grand fling at Balaclava Crescent’s annual Grand Illumination for Christmas, he ducks out to avoid repercussions, returning to find the body of Mrs. Jemina Ames, his neighbor and wife of his agricultural collaborator, behind the sofa in his living room. He recognizes that this is no accident, and is set to proving that by the college’s overpowering president.

   Another murder and a budding romance later — he does just that. Along the way we meet Crimble, a sexually athletic custodian; Tim Ames, the very deaf husband of the dead woman; Hannah Cadwell, friend of Jemima and wife of the upright financial officer of the college; the Dysarts, who give parties at which lots of alcohol is imbibed and Heidi Heyhoe, a coed who is mainly occupied with pulling sleds around the Crescent.

   I can’t begin to convey the humor of the tale, yet it is also a serious investigation into human motives. I’m going to read more MacLeods.

NOTE: This review was paired with the following one-paragraph one by Bob Adey:

   The light humorous detective novel is a very easy form to come unstuck on, but Miss (or is it Mrs.) MacLeod doesn’t. Her picture of college life and the effort of Professor Peter Shandy to uncover the identity of the killer on the campus contain some genuinely funny passages. The author handles her cast with considerable skill and Shandy’s late romance is also nicely done. The detection is also more than satisfactory, so the book is to be recommended on all counts.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 4, Number 5/6 (December, 1981). Permission granted by publisher/editor Jeff Meyerson.