Allen J. Hubin

ROBERT BARNARD Skeleton in the Grass

ROBERT BARNARD – The Skeleton in the Grass. Scribner’s, US, hardcover, 1988; Dell, paperback, 1989. First published in the UK by Collins Crime Club, hardcover, 1987.

   Robert Barnard’s The Skeleton in the Grass has not the witty bite of some of his work. But it is a brilliantly observant picture of a pre-war [1936] English village, of the social classes and their distinctions and varying consciousnesses of war and peace. It is, in fact, a masterpiece.

   Dennis Hallam, scholar, book reviewer, a man who cares, who feels deeply, sits atop the social structure with his family, though he rejects such class notions and his pacifist views are not welcome in all quarters. Especially now, as someone (prodded, presumably, by the fascist Major Coffey) is leaving little symbols of cowardice around the Hallam estate.

   As tempers rise, could murder result? In so peace-loving a neighborhood? This is a novel not on any account to be missed.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 1989.