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    Lauwrence Sanders McNally's Folly by Vincent Lardo

    An Archy McNally Novel

    G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2000

    A psychic has Palm Beach Florida's ladies who lunch in awe but one husband fears his wife his being taken. He hires Archie McNally to find out whether the psychic is real--or a fraud. Archie is inclined to be doubtful, but Serge Ouspenskaya seems to know more than anyone could if he didn't really receive messages from the beyond. To stay on the scent, Archie agrees to be drafted into directing the community theater's presentation of Arsenic and Old Lace. What he doesn't expect is that the star's husband--his client--dies of arsenic poisoning. Is the play coming to life? Or could Ouspenskaya be protecting his business by offing his biggest critic?

    Archie McNally was created by the late Laurence Sanders and the Sanders estate has asked Vincent Lardo (see other reviews of novels by this author) to carry on with these amusing novels. Somewhat reminisant in tone of Archie Goodwin in the Nero Wolfe series, Archie is intrigued by his own wardrobe, interested in showing his own wit and appreciating others, and always willing to chase a skirt. Lardo does an excellent job of keeping Archie true to his creation while creating a light, yet enjoyable mystery. In addition to the play within a play created by the production of Arsenic and Old Lace, Archie and his palls discuss Hamlet and its own internal play.

    If McNALLY'S FOLLY had been written in the 1930s, its treatment of women would have been more typical and forgivable. Instead, Archie's casual disregard for the feelings of the women in his life somewhat marrs this otherwise delightful romp. If the reader can overlook this flaw, however, McNALLY'S FOLLY is a fine combination of mystery and humor that actually works.

    Three Stars

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