Death in A Family Way
At age fifty, with two grown children, Margaret Spencer lives the placid and vaguely dissatisfied life of a corporate attorney's wife until one more vapid birthday card from her inattentive husband sparks a search for new meaning in her existence. She answers a newspaper ad calling for part-time office help, and finds herself hired on the spot by Nat Southby, former cop and now private eye. An innocuous request to locate a missing cat brings Margaret (who Southby immediately calls "Maggie," much to her prim dismay) and her boss smack into the middle of a vicious murder and a series of unnerving disappearances of Vancouver teenage girls. Beneath the placid exterior of this provincial city, a soon-to-be metropolis, lurks a great deal of evil. In this taut story that starts languidly and slowly gains momentum, finishing with a wild kidnapping and chase on British Columbia's Gulf Islands, first-time British-born author Gwendolyn Southin (who at age 69 just LOOKS the part of a great English crime fiction writer, all sweetness and malice rolled into one) has woven a spell-binding tale that brings us back to a simpler time on Canada's lush west coast, when women's lib was defined as more labor-saving devices in the kitchen and when wives were supposed to know their place. In this novel Southin has created a heroine whose appeal transcends time and place. Maggie Spencer is a woman with a keen sense of humor, an innate understanding of psychology, a terrific memory for detail and a sharp temper. Southin's characters all lend credibility and depth to her tale: Harry, the stuffed shirt of a husband, well-meaning but a total milquetoast where mother is concerned; Southby, a dumpy, divorced private dick with an eye for a well-turned heel but a battered sense of his own self-worth; Violet Larkfield, maniacal cat-lover and human-hater, Phillip Collins, wealthy industrialist married to a young, wandering wife, and Cubby Cuthbertson, man on the make with a taste for the good life and no moral compass.
Montréal, Que. : Robert Davies, c2000
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