Monday, December 26, 2011

C. B. Greenfield: A Little Madness Review


C. B. Greenfield: A Little Madness is Lucille Kallen's fifth and last mystery novel. I've read the previous three...and have yet to find her debut novel. I'd still like to do that--even though this latest outing was a bit of a let-down. I thoroughly enjoyed The Tanglewood Murder; No Lady in the House; and The Piano Bird and fully expected to enjoy A Little Madness as well. Unfortunately, this tale of murder at a nuclear arms protest leaves a lot to be desired.

First up--the story line. Spring has come to New England, bringing warmer weather and spring romance in the form of visiting a British violinist who seems to be playing a siren song that has crusty C. B. Greenfield smiling (smiling??) and hanging on every note. Maggie, his sleuthing assistant and star reporter, runs away from the nauseating sight to join an upstate women's peace camp--all set to protest the storage of cruise missiles at a local military base. But it seems she can not escape love's sweet dream...for Penelope Heath-Morecomb (Britain's finest) turns up at the camp as one of its leaders. Also making an appearance in town is a well-known right-wing activist who is vowing to shut down the peace protest with a demonstration of her own. Tensions rise....until the right-winger (author of such fine books as
Why God Gave Us Bombs) disappears mysteriously before making her final appearance as a corpse in a stream. Maggie becomes convinced that H-M is behind the evil doings and Greenfield arrives on the scene to help her find out if she's right.

So...why was this such a disappointment? A. The story line. Why the heck is Maggie so unreasonably jealous of H-M? She meets the woman once, sees Greenfield entranced by her musical talents, and suddenly becomes convinced that she (Maggie) is being shouldered aside as Greenfield's side-kick, confidante, what-have-you. Seriously? And then, supposing one buys that little tidbit, what in our previous outings makes us willing to further suspend our disbelief and think that she would immediately run off to join a peace camp? Nothing. Kallen could have sold that little trip better if she had Maggie heading up there to cover the story as a reporter.
That would have been believable. B. The murder. How about--since we've embroiled Maggie in a peace demonstration--we actually make the murder relevant to that story line? Or rather (since it is sortof related) more relevant. D. The narrative. Just did not flow like the previous novels. It felt choppy and erratic--just like Maggie's behavior. D. The culprit. Kind of pathetic. Really. Can't give a lot of details here or it'd spoil it for you--supposing you still want to try this one out.

My suggestion? Skip this one and go for one of the previous novels. 'Cuz the three I've read are actually pretty darn good. Two stars--just.

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