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    THE MALCONTENTA by Barry Maitland


    Arcade Publishing, 1995/2000

    Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla hasn't been having much luck in her assignment away from London. When she finally gets an interesting case--an apparent suicide that soon looks like murder--she is accused of bungling it and ordered to stay far away. A letter from a witness remotivates her and she, along with her partner, visit Detective Chief Inspector Brock, her mentor. Brock checks into the health spa where the suicide (or murder) took place and finds nothing is as it seems. Yet are all secrets covering murder?

    Author Barry Maitland (see more reviews of novels by Maitland) has created an approachable and interesting, and very British mystery. The cast of characters within the health spa and the small-town environment around it, ring true and include Cambridge blue-bloods, gay married couples of questionable fidelity, woman-hating police officials, and a doctor who cares about his patients so much he is willing to break the law to help them.

    The first segment of the novel is presented as a retold summary, creating a distance between the reader and Kathy. When Brock checks into the health spa, the narrative shifts into standard past tense, adding significantly to the emotional impact.

    Maitland lays out plenty of clues and ends in an exciting action climax. His characters, especially Brock and the patients at the Stanhope House Clinic, make the novel exceptional.

    Three Stars

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