Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Murder in Penzance: Wycliffe and the Cycle of Death

      W. J. Burley. Wycliffe and the Cycle of Death (1990) Someone kills Matthew Glynn, owner of the family business, a bookstore, and eldest brother in a dysfunctional family in Penzance. Wycliffe and his plodders uncover the family skeletons one by one, but by the time Wycliffe reconstructs the ancient crime that triggered the murder, the killer is dead. The inquest into the death of the first victim may or may not name names. Wycliffe is left with a feeling of failure, but the reader is satisfied that the puzzle has been solved.
     Burley was a school teacher before retiring to write murder stories full time. He knows when a digressive tidbit will entertain or inform the reader. He’s good at sketching ambience. He clearly loves Cornwall and its people. He’s a skilful writer, telling us as much as we need to follow the story and round out the characters enough that we care. His books are well-done entertainments, with a thematic core, in this case the perils of family secrets. The TV series based on his books is worth watching. **½

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