St. Martin's, Aug 2004, 25.95, 400 pp.
In the village of Forbes Abbot, Dennis Brinkley is the subject of much local gossip as he collects replicas of old war-weapons and torture devices of varying sizes. Paradoxically, one of the collector's war machines crushes him to death. The villagers believe that a freak accident occurred, but his best friend Benny thinks someone is getting away with a homicide.
The locals believe that Benny's contention is substantiated when psychic Ava Garrett insists she will ask Dennis to identify his killer at a sťance she is hosting. However, before she can call on Dennis, an unknown assailant kills the psychic. Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby and Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy investigate the two homicides.
No one does the English village police procedural better than Caroline Graham consistently accomplishes them. Her latest Barnaby and Troy triumph is a fabulous tale that ironically uses newcomers (Mallory and Kate Lawson and their daughter Polly) expecting a serene quiet change from London to introduce readers to Forbes Abbott and its eccentric residents that includes the late Dennis. The action is limited and the dynamic law enforcement duo does not appear until half way through the book as the oddball local characters take center stage with their goings on. The investigation is top rate, but it is the eccentricity of the villagers that make for a fantastic cozy-like tale with some profanity and one of the dead being a mangled bloody corpse.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner