Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Grub-&-Stakers Pinch a Poke: Review

The Grub-&-Stakers Pinch a Poke (1988) by Charlotte MacLeod writing as Alisa Craig is the third in this series. In this outing the Grub & Stakers are vying for the Jenson Thorbisher-Freep collection of theatrical memorabilia--because supposedly ownership of said collection will somehow help Desdemona Portley and the Traveling Thespians rustle up donations to restore an opera house. Besides, winning the competition will give the Grub & Stakers bragging rights in the thespian field for, oh, at least a year. 

Dittany Monk (our heroine/narrator) volunteers her husband for the job of coming up with a play based on earlier times in Canadian history. He decides to work one up using the story line in the famous poem, "The Shooting of Dan McGrew." Everything is going great until the night of the play and the hero gets shot with a real bullet instead of a blank. Fortunately, he survives, but other attempts follow and the Grub & Stakers--with Dittany in the lead--must discover who the current day villain is before s/he succeeds.

Very silly. Even sillier than her silliest Professor Shandy books. Way too many people people talking in\ the oddest dialects--from Canadian policeman Sergeant MacVicar (who is apparently here straight from Scotland if his speech is anything to go by) to the Regency romance author (and aunt-in-law to our heroine/narrator) who speaks like she just stepped off the pages of her own historical novel to the owner of the coveted collection of theatrical memorabilia who speaks like a Shakespearean actor who's permanently lost himself in his part. I suspect that the characters are meant to be charmingly eccentric, but they strike me as annoyingly weird. There is also the most inept would-be murderer ever. Tries to arrange for the hated person to be shot onstage--that goes awry. Arranges for the delivery of a venomous cobra disguised as a box of flowers--doesn't take into account that there's a dog on the premises who will sniff out the bad "bouquet." Mutters about plans where one could obviously be overheard and strews telltale bits evidence hither and yon with wild abandon--as soon as Dittany realizes who might be behind the attacks, clues are easily found.

I like Dittany and her husband very much, but a small dose of Aunt Arethusa (our Regency romance author) goes a VERY long way. On the plus side, this is more of a traditional mystery plot than some of the Craig/MacLeod books. There are definitely clues to follow and it is possible to solve the mystery before our heroine. But-for me--a very middle-of-the-road cozy mystery. ★★

[Finished 9/10/18]

1 comment:

Jee Jay said...

Hmmm-- in the 1964 movie 'Murder Most Foul', Margaret Rutherford as "Miss Marple" joined a theatre company to investigate a murder. She auditioned by reciting 'The Murder Of Dan McGrew'.

Interesting coincidence ...