Friday, April 1, 2016

The Third Encounter: Review

The Third Encounter is the fourth entry in Sara Woods's series featuring barrister Antony Maitland. Woods is the most recognized pseudonym of Lana Hutton Bowen-Judd (March 1922-1985), a British mystery writer who also wrote under the names Anne Burton, Mary Challis, and Margaret Leek. Her series character Maitland is a English barrister who, more often than not, plays detective to ferret out details that will allow his uncle, Sir Nicholas Harding, Q.C., to more ably defend the (obviously) innocent clients that Maitland convinces him to represent.

Maitland gets a phone call from his old friend Dr. Martin, but the call is cut off before the barrister can even speak to him. Maitland figures that a patient walked in or Dr. Martin was otherwise interrupted and thinks little of it until it's time to close up shop at the office. When calls Martin's number, a familiar voice answers--but not that of Dr. Martin. It is Inspector Sykes of Scotland Yard. The kindly old doctor has been found strangled to death and the police are pretty certain that they've got the culprit all sewn up. Gerry Martin, the doctor's free-loading cousin, had a rather public argument just a day or so ago and he just happens to be the doctor's heir. 

Maitland and his uncle, Sir Nicholas, are called upon to defend Gerry with Maitland quite sure that Gerry may be a lot things, but he's no murderer. Maitland is even more sure when he finds subtle hints of leftovers from his from his intelligence work during the war and the lingering shadow of an old enemy--the man responsible for his capture in Paris and his war injury. He sets about making inquiries with his colleagues in intelligence and finds himself drawn back into a web of secrecy and espionage. He will have to walk a fine line to dig up proof of Gerry's innocence without upsetting an international applecart....or losing his own life to the one man he fears most.

Woods does a good job connecting the past and the present in this story of the likeable Antony Maitland. She provides the background needed without miring the story in the past and she provides a good setting for Maitland to put some of the demons from his war experience to rest. It also helps substantiate the reasons behind his playing such a lone hand--and getting himself in danger. An interesting plot, with perhaps a too limited selection of suspects--which makes it fairly easy to spot the villain/s and anticipate the final twist. Still, a well-told and exciting entry in the series. ★★ and 3/4.

This fulfills the "Doctor" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card as well as the "Set During a Courtroom Trial" category for the Mystery Reporter Challenge.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

I have a hard time with war settings, but am glad you liked it.