Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cold Steal: Review

Cold Steal by Alice Tilton (aka Phoebe Atwood Taylor) finds her scholarly sleuth Leonidas Witherall returning from an around-the-world tour to Boston where his brand-new, newly-built home awaits. Known affectionately as "Bill Shakespeare," "Bill," or "Shakespeare" because of his resemblance to busts of the famous playwright, Witherall has a penchant for landing himself in the most bizarre of mysteries. There he is, minding his own business on the train from New York to Boston, when he suddenly finds himself concerned with a mousy middle-aged woman hiding a brown paper parcel (containing a gun and a pair of handcuffs!) and a beautiful redhead who keeps losing a candy-striped lipstick. He gets himself biffed over the head by said mousy woman and entangled with a young man who seems determined to prevent Witherall from reaching his home. Once home he's inundated with strange men who want to trade his brand new red refrigerator for an even "newer, better one" or who want to sell him handfuls of brushes; a Judge and her entourage who insist on seeing his whole house even before he has; a gaggle of women who welcome him with tea; and what seems to be a girl scout convention. Oh...and there's a body in his new car in the new garage...killed with a pick ax from the Chief of Police's collection. 

Witherall's friends insist that they must track down the killer themselves. He's all set to overrule them and turn it over to the authorities, until he realizes who the corpse is. Medora Winthrop not only was his closes neighbor--a neighbor who violently opposed to his new house, but an old flame who he sortof jilted. As he says: "I began to realize the possibilities of the situation. Er--'Bearded Swain Slays Former Jilted Fiancee With Police Chief's Ax'" in all the headlines. And so they're off--tracking down a delivery truck, a painter's brush box, some missing money, and a cold-hearted killer...and incidentally helping the most unexpected person get elected as Mayor.

This is another fast-paced, hilarious romp with Witherall and company. It's the kind of silly heavy-on-the-fun and light-on-the-detection kind of mystery that one needs to be in the mood for in order to enjoy. But when you're in that mood--these are delightful. It's like getting on a roller-coaster that runs at top-speed the whole ride and when you come to a stop, you catch your breath and try to figure out if you've still got all the clues with you. Don't expect to have enough to really figure things out logically and you'll be okay. I knew who did it--but I couldn't have explained it with what I had left after the wild ride if my life depended on it. Great fun for an end-of-year read. ★★★★

2 comments:

Toady said...

I can go for something like this from time to time. I very much enjoy detection novels, and the more fun the better sometimes, especially when looking for a break in between reading heavier stuff. Thank you for the great review.

fredamans said...

Sounds like a super fun book. I love the play on Shakespeare!