Lestrade and the Magpie

Trow, M.J.

Published by Constable, 1991
ISBN 10: 0094708703 / ISBN 13: 9780094708709
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Synopsis: England in 1920 is a land fit for heroes. So why is one of those heroes found dead in a dingy London hotel? And why does his war record show that he has been missing, presumed killed in action, for three years?

The deceased is the fiancé of Inspector Lestrade’s daughter, and when her tears are dry she sets out to find his murderer. As always with Lestrade, one murder has a habit of leading to another; a second body turns up, linked to the first. How can a woman killed in an air raid in 1917 be found with a bullet through her head three years later?

When a succession of foreigners is murdered with the same tell-tale weapon, has World War II started already? Can it be Hunnish practices? Or the Red Peril? Perhaps the Black and Tans?

A colourful web of intrigue unfolds as Lestrade and his daughter go undercover in the War Office, the Foreign Office, a film studio and at the Yard itself. When Lestrade’s daughter is kidnapped, the writing is on the wall. And the writing says ‘MI5’.

‘Good enough to make a grown man weep.’ - Yorkshire Post

Review: Penzler Pick, July 2000: Not all Sherlock Holmes pastiches are created equal. Some directly plunder the canon for their plots, re-imagining famous cases as Holmes and Watson didn't experience them. Others discover slight allusions to create adventures "that might have been." Some go for humor, others aim at dash. Most ape the original transmitter of the stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in tone and temper, style and setting, as well as they can. All the good ones honor the sublime originals. If they didn't, I certainly would not write about them.

M.J. Trow is an Englishman who has won a growing following for his novels that make sideways use, as it were, of the Sherlock Holmes roster of immortal characters. Taking the unusual name "Sholto" (from a character in the second Holmes adventure, The Sign of Four), Trow combines it with the figure of the bumbling Scotland Yard inspector, Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes's frequent bête noire, to give modern readers a cockeyed re-envisioning of the early 20th-century mystery of manors. And manners, too.

Think Monty Python, with all the wickedly witty erudition that implies, and then try to imagine that troupe in charge of a season of Mystery! Trow makes his Lestrade uxorious (he has a devoted wife, Fanny) and a doting father, to boot. In Lestrade and the Magpie, the now retired Superintendent Lestrade finds himself faced with a case in which his daughter's missing-in-action fiancé (WWI is over and the year is 1920) has turned up murdered in a London hotel room. But where had he been during those intervening three years, since the war office sent its official telegram?

Bernard Shaw, the Irish nationalist hero Michael Collins, Lawrence of Arabia, the sexologist Havelock Ellis, the Russian pretender Anastasia, and the very late Marie Antoinette all have some part in the action. For Sholto Lestrade, who narrowly missed sailing on the Titanic and who is surely bound to wind up in Queen Mary's bedroom after taking a wrong turn in Buckingham Palace, history is what serves as the backdrop to his life. Near-ceaseless wordplay, continual lashings of highbrow whimsy, and a steady stream of literary in-jokes keep Trow's readers on their toes. If the plots are twisty (and they are), even more delightfully convoluted is the author's mind. Let's just be glad there are no quizzes afterwards. --Otto Penzler

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Lestrade and the Magpie
Publisher: Constable
Publication Date: 1991
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine
Edition: First Edition.

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Book Description London: Constable, 1991, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Fine. 1st Edition. 1st Edition. Fine/Fine. Not price clipped. Set in the late 19C. The man so often out detected by Shelock Holmes investigates in his own series of mysteries. SIGNED by Author. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 5385

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