Review of Maniac by Angus MacVicar,
(first pub. 1969; reviewed ARC of 2016 ed. from Endeavour Press Ltd.)
Rated 4 out of 5 stars by Iris Chacon.
The first thing I noticed about this classy and classic Brit mystery was that it had first been published nearly fifty years ago. I worried that the story might seem dated and irrelevant, but subsequent reading proved me wrong. This mystery is as charming, suspenseful, and engrossing as any cozy mystery written today. Such timelessness is the hallmark of a well-crafted novel that expresses universal truths about the human condition.
Alec has returned to his family’s ancestral after many years as a globe-trotting journalist. He hopes to recuperate from a recent hospitalization for mental problems, without becoming the center of small-town gossip. As it happens, he has much more to worry about than just gossip. Someone, people say it is a “maniac,” is murdering women in this tiny British hamlet. Because of his recent illness, Alec is not sure whether he may, in fact, have committed murder without remembering it.
Readers will snap at anyone who interrupts them while reading of Alec’s friends and family, including old girlfriends and new, because there is a surprise lurking behind every bush and every smiling (or frowning) face in Alec’s home town. Easy and fun to read; it will be over before you know it, and you’ll be sorry to see it end.
There are some oblique references to adult misbehavior, but the language is generally clean and there are no explicit sexual scenes.
This writer received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest, objective review.