The Murder Stone
In The Murder Stone, Penny does a witty takeoff on the English country house party mystery, à la Gosford Park, profiting from the opportunity to take an upstairs/downstairs view of guests and staff. Even funnier is her merciless view of a highly dysfunctional WASP family, mirrored in the astonishment of the down-to-earth francophone detectives. Among these last, however, is dapper Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, deeply unhappy at having to get his fine leather shoes and elegantly casual linen shirt wet and muddy…not to mention being bothered by those pesky bees, blackflies, and mosquitoes.
With the Morrows, nothing and nobody is what they seem, and conversations are never constructive. They inevitably end in bitter recriminations and reprisals for events long past. “The Morrows did what they did best. They fell silent,” we are told when one of them is found murdered. The murder itself is highly contrived but that is all part of the fun. The plotting is flawless and when the murderer is finally revealed in a thrilling climactic scene – a life-and-death struggle on the copper roof – we realize that there were plenty of clever clues along the way. Penny has finally and fully recovered the confidence shown in her first novel, Still Life. mRb