Barry Maitland, The Chalon Heads
Scottish-born but Australian resident Barry Maitland is one of the finest exponents of the modern detective duo currently working. His series with D.S. Kathy Kolla and D.C.I. David Brock contain a sumptuous cocktail of mystery and suspense with an erudite take on some aspect of social history, profession or pastime – in this the 4th in the series the pull is stamp collecting. The doyen of the whoddunit H R F Keating provided the appreciation.
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Scottish-born but Australian resident Barry Maitland is one of the finest exponents of the modern detective duo. His series with D.S. Kathy Kolla and D.C.I. David Brock contain a sumptuous cocktail of mystery and suspense with the bonus of an erudite take on some aspect of social history, profession or pastime. Barry is also a canny observer of the crime scene in Europe and America, and has contributed appreciations of James Lee Burke and Carol O’Connell.
The first Maitland novel was The Marx Sisters (1994), published by Hamish Hamilton with a striking dust jacket. The story was an investigation into a proposed property development in a backwater of central London called Jerusalem Lane, Clerkenwell involving the eviction of two elderly sisters related to Karl Marx. It was called “unflaggingly lively and amusing” by Julian Symons. This a puzzler with a nice modern flavour. The Brock/Kolla now has twelve episodes, always describe a distinct London neighbourhood and the author is particularly good at describing the atmosphere at each locale; the last being the Chelsea Mansions (2011). This is the fourth book in the series.
Plotline: When Sammy Starling, a former London gangster with a passion for collecting, discovers his beautiful young wife is missing, he calls DCI David Brock for help. Ten years ago Starling’s evidence for Brock in a case of police corruption put a couple of cops away – now one of them is getting out. And getting even? As this investigation proceeds, Brock is now the one under suspicion. His team is disbanded and DS Kathy Kolla is unwillingly reassigned. But now she needs to know what links Sammy Starling’s absorption in philately, her new boss’s obsession with two legendary forgers, and Eva’s disappearance. And how will Kolla ever find the answers to this puzzle of kidnapping, murder and revenge?
For fans of the whodunnit this is a fine entry in our series. It was well reviewed with Kirkus remarking that it was “the most satisfyingly twisty mystery of the year”. It was a delight to have the doyen of the whodunnit, H R F Keating provide an appreciation.