CHARLOTTE MacLEOD – Wrack and Rune. Doubleday/Crime Club, hardcover, 1982. Avon, reprint paperback, 1982.

CHARLOTTE MacLEOD Wrack and Rune

   Charlotte MacLeod is a relative newcomer to the field of mystery writing, but in the past two or three years she has certainly shown all the signs of becoming a name to reckon with.

   Agatha Christie is no longer with us, but even if she were, she’d have no cause for fear. What makes these adventures of Peter Shandy so highly anticipated, at least in some circles, is hardly the detection involved, though never fear: there is that, too.

   But it’s rather the pure laugh-out-loud sort of humor that pervades MacLeod’s stories; that, plus the fact that the large proportion of her characters, many of them old friends to us now, actually like each other. Shandy is a professor of agrology at Balaclava College, up somewhere in nearby Massachusetts, but his fame at becoming involved in cases of murder has spread from the campus clear across Balaclava County, clearly the wildest piece of country this side of Appalachia.

   A runestone found in an ancient farmstead may be the harbinger of buried Viking treasure to come. The prospect brings out the worst in some people, and before you can say Thorkjeld Svenson, more than the college experts have quickly overrun the site.

   Death by quicklime also results, as well as a few other assorted attempts at murder. There’s never been such excitement in Lumpkin Corners as this.

   This particular outing, Shandy’s third appearance now, may be too long by about a third for a constant level of such inspired insanity to be properly maintained, but I doubt you’ll have as much fun with a detective novel as you will with this one.

   That is, until the next one.

Rating: C plus.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 6, No. 3, May-June 1982 (slightly revised).This review first appeared in the Hartford Courant.