Monday, April 25, 2016

Death by Hoax: Review

Death by Hoax (1974) by Lionel Black is the third out of six books in the series featuring Kate Theobald and her husband Henry. Kate is the Post's star reporter. She has a knack for finding herself in the middle of high crimes and murderous plots when sent on the most innocuous assignments. This time, Butch, her boss, sends her, in the middle of what he calls "the silly season," to Loxham Bay to try and squeeze a story out of a string of hoaxes that have occurred. Their man on the spot, a stringer by the name of Geoff Hayward, isn't such a dab hand at turning out an exciting story and Butch knows that Kate will be able to make something out of the practical jokes that have included fire false alarms, bogus bomb threats, mysterious men on train lines, and an accident that never happened. 

True to form, the first thing that happens as soon as Kate shows up in town is that a new bomb scare proves to be deadly serious and Carl Grossman, the owner of a local electronics factory, winds up dead from a bomb hidden in his desk and set to explode when unlocked and opened. Henry comes flying to play side-kick to his inquisitive wife and before they know it they have uncovered everything from affairs on the side to blackmail, bigamy to missing wills, and possible fraud to hidden secrets from Grossman's past. Lots of people would seem to have a reason to want Grossman dead whether because of business or to get their hands on his money or because of personal relationships.

Also true to form, Kate finds herself in danger at the end and heroics on the part of Hayward and her husband manage to save the day....and save Kate to write the eye-popping, headline-making story that will scoop her fellow reporters once again.

This particular installment of the Theobald mysteries is a bit more gruesome than those I've previously read. It includes death by explosion, death by a good bashing on the head with a spanner (or tire iron, we're not quite sure which), and ends on a somewhat brutal note as well. The mystery itself is a good one and Black gives the plot several twists to make things interesting. Kate and Henry are as delightful as ever and I still like that Kate's job gives her good reason to get mixed up in these sort of things. I did deduct a bit for the slightly more brutal nature of this cozy mystery, making it a flat  ★★instead of the usual three and a half to four stars for the others in the series.

This counts for the "Telephone" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Brutal nature is more of my tastes. I think I might like this one, maybe a little more than you.