MARGARET MILLAR The Murder of Miranda

MARGARET MILLAR – The Murder of Miranda. Random House, hardcover, 1979. Paperback reprint: International Polygonics, 1989.

   The dust jacket calls this a suspense novel, but as of page 172 the story is still singularly crime-free. This in spite of the fact that the young lawyer Tom Aragon, who also had a prominent role in Millar’s previous novel, Ask for Me Tomorrow, is on hand again to turn in another satisfactory job of detective work.

   The intent is instead a devastating attack on the California life style, with the easy target being the slightly wacky members of the terribly exclusive Penguin Beach Club. In truth, though, the delicate line between witty characterization and just plain potty characters is crossed more than once.

   The ending, in particular, veers so suddenly from the semi-comical to a harshly bitter irony that only the vaguest sort of loss is the result.

Rating:   B.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 3, No. 6, Nov/Dec 1979 (very slightly revised). This review also appeared earlier in the Hartford Courant.

[UPDATE] 11-13-11.   Series character Tom Aragon appeared in one more novel, Mermaid (Morrow, 1982), which I remember reading, but nothing more than that — which pretty much holds true for this one as well.