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    THE CHALON HEADS by Barry Maitland


    Arcade Publishing, 1999/2001 (U.S.)

    Sammy Starling, aka Sammy China, was a minor criminal when he first met Detective Chief Inspector Brock. Then, Starling helped Brock uncover a ring of corruption within the English police--in return for saving his own skin. Now he's rich, married to a beautiful woman, and back in Brock's life. Starling's wife Eva has been kidnapped and he trusts only Brock to help him. Weirdly, Starling has been receiving threatening notes with rare postage stamps brutally slashed. Starling is a stamp collector and his wife has a striking resemblance to the Chalon Head--a portrait of the young Queen Victoria.

    Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla has assisted Brock on a number of cases and is ready to do so on this one as well. Yet something is different on this case--and Brock seems unable to control things. If author Barry Maitland's earlier novel THE MALCONTENTA was Brock's tale (see our review), then THE CHALON HEADS is Kathy's. Cut off from her normal support group and uncertain whom she can trust, Kathy continues her investigation as the crimes gradually grow more dangerous.

    The London police have identified a link between Eva's kidnapping and a year-old cop murder and are ready to sacrifice anyone to bring a suspect to bear--certainly the unpopular Brock and despised Starling are likely candidates--even if they aren't the guilty parties. Or are they? Kathy has always trusted Brock, learned from him, yet now he is unreachable.

    Author Barry Maitland (see more reviews of novels by Maitland) has written an exciting and compelling story. Kidnapping, police corruption, theft, forgery, and murder all come together in a compelling melange of adventure and personal growth. I recommend this novel without reservation.

    Four Stars

    Purchase THE CHALON HEADS from (hardback).