Friday, December 5, 2014

Mayhem in B-Flat: Review

Mayhem in B-Flat is set in Paris between the two World Wars. It stars Homer Evans, American in Paris, and his pistol packing lady, Miriam Leonard. Miriam is more at home on the prairie, wrestling steers into submission--but adjusts well to the French countryside which seems to be littered with rival gang members. Homer and Miriam have planned an excursion to Normandy to allow Homer to investigate his Gallic roots. But their quiet vacation plans are interrupted when they encounter a gang member known as the Singe--someone they've come across before. Homer doesn't know what skulduggery may be afoot, but that there will be skulduggery he is certain.

And before they know it, the vacationing couple are involved in the theft of an extremely valuable violin, corpses that expire while in the middle of the most mundane occupations (such as a game of checkers), tarantula fights, shootouts with hoodlums known as Dental Jake and Godo the Wack, the development of a hideously effective new poison, fingerprints that shouldn't be there, a drunken party on a barge, a missing violinist, and an effort to prevent the medical examiner from pulling out all his hair over his inability to identify the aforementioned poison. Miriam takes out a couple of thugs with fancy shooting and acquires a particularly well-trained canine along the way and Homer proves why the Chief of Police should always listen to him before arresting anybody.

This is an incredibly funny, but fairly far-fetched mystery. Not at all fairly clued--Homer seems to have ESP or something going on that allows him to discover the whereabouts of various characters no matter where they go...with little to no explanation to the reader of his methods. There is also a major no-no for the dedicated Golden Age reader in the use of a "never before existed" poison. But despite the lack of fair play, this was a fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed the mad-cap adventures of Homer and Miriam. I have both Hugger-Mugger in the Louvre and Murder on the Left Bank and look forward to reading those as well.

The humor is broad and fairly witty and makes great use of funny names, eccentric characters, and word-play--including the chapter headings. It all comes together for a fun ride. ★★ and a half.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

I love word-play, especially if humorous. Might be worth checking out. Great review!