MARGARET MILLAR – Mermaid. William Morrow, hardcover, 1982. Paperback reprint: IPL, 1991.


   Tom Aragon, whose position as a junior member of a prestigious Southern California law firm has him largely doing legwork for the senior members, occasionally has the opportunity of adding detective duties to his list of chores. He’s no expert at it, by any means, but for an amateur he does pretty well.

   This case has to do with a runaway girl — which comes as no surprise, since the west coast must be full of them — but with a difference. Cleo Jasper is a member of a very wealthy family, she is pretty, if not beautiful, and she is exceptional.

   Mildly retarded, that is, and just beginning to become aware of her “rights.” As in all good drama, the characters in Millar’s panoramic novels are often a mysterious mixture of the comic with the tragic. While she does not realize it, unfortunately, Cleo Jasper is the supreme archetype of each.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 6, No. 2, March/April 1982.
        (This review appeared earlier in the Hartford Courant.)

[UPDATE] 05-10-10.   If I were to have written this review today, this afternoon, for example, I’m sure it would have been a whole lot longer. I didn’t have a set word limit when I back when I was writing reviews for the Courant, but I knew that I went way long on one, the others would have to be shorter or would be cut altogether.

   One reason for pointing this out is that when it appeared in The MYSTERY FANcier, I added a letter rating of an “A,” and I’m not sure that if I didn’t mention it now, you wouldn’t have known how highly I thought of it. Nor, at this later date, would I, and it’s certainly worth pointing out.