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Wrack and Rune by Charlotte MacLeod
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Wrack and Rune (original 1981; edition 1982)

by Charlotte MacLeod (Author)

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202None57,699 (3.77)1
Member:RedQueen
Title:Wrack and Rune
Authors:Charlotte MacLeod (Author)
Info:Avon Books (1983) Paperback
Collections:Your library, Mystery
Rating:****
Tags:Peter Shandy, cosy, mystery, amateur detective, New Englang, 13

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Wrack and Rune by Charlotte MacLeod (1981)

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This third outing in the Peter Shandy mysteries is loads of fun. Miss Hilda Horsefall, over a century old, is a ripsnorter of a hot-to-trot, vinegar-tongued spinster aunt and proud of it. The book opens with her giving an earful to the young reporter trying to interview her and swiftly moves into a really nasty murder (not of Miss Hilda, thank goodness). The Horsefalls have held their farm for 243 years. Someone's been playing a series of increasingly uglier tricks on them. Is it the shady developer who wants their land? How about the pushy real-estate lady who's determined to secure the farm for the developer? The Horsefalls' hired hand has a despicable cousin whom the Horsefalls publically humiliated. Is the cousin out for revenge? While all this is going on there's the hordes of obnoxious rubberneckers wanting to see the old runestone rediscovered on the Horsefall Farm. Less fatal attacks befall others who come there. Some claim they're the result of the curse mentioned on the runestone. Shandy suspects a living human hand is responsible. He's on the case again, ably assisted by his librarian wife, other members of the supporting cast, and the good residents of Lumpkin Corners. Fellow cat lovers get to welcome the newest addition to the Shandy household: Jane Austen. I believe she was the unnamed kitten of the Enderbles' cat, Imogene, in REST YOU MERRY. Considering what Shandy wanted to name her, it's a good thing she turned out to be female.

NOTES: In chapter 5 of Rest You Merry it was stated that the Buggins Collection had been donated to the college by a distant connection of the founder, Balaclava, and it was donated in the 1920s. In chapter 17 of this book we learn that the doner was Bedivere Buggins. According to chapter 21, far from being a distant connection, Bedivere was the son of Balaclava's brother, Bartleby. Bedivere's brother was Belial, poet and moonshiner.

In According to chapter 20, the Svensons' parents are still alive, as are aunts and uncles. They also have brothers, sisters, nephews, neices, cousins to the fourth degree, and nine adorable grandchildren.

We learn the name of Balaclava's Football team in chapter 10. (Don't let yourself miss the description of President Svenson in chapter 10 or that of Sieglinde in chapter 20.) In chapter 21 Thorkjeld says he's been sleeping with Sieglinde for 34 years. She adds that it was in lawful wedlock. When she met Helen in chapter 11 of Rest You Merry , Sieglinde said she'd never in 27 years found him dull. Hmmmmmm.

Chapter 17 is where Helen tells the story of the stunning Finnish boy she once knew. It's also where we learn that she has brothers.)

For younger readers: all of the Swope brothers were named for news anchors. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley of the Huntley-Brinkley Report were on a rival network.

Also, while it's easy to plug an unattributed quotation into a search engine, Hilda Horsefalls' retort to her nephew about 'them scoffers and jeerers that got et by the bears' is tougher. I think she's referring to the shocking incident involving the prophet Elisha and some bratty kids. That's in the second book of Kings, chapter 2, verses 23-25, as I found by plugging in 'Elisha and bears'. I love the internet! This so much easier than flipping through my Bible or searching quotation books!!

If you like humorous mysteries, do give this series a try.

Bob Korn is the artist for the cover with the brooding viking resting on a big rock with a skull carved on it. ( )
  JalenV | Dec 18, 2011 |
Substance: The mystery is fairly done, but the whole situation is wacky. Totally loved it, but it was almost over the top.
Style: More like Wodehose than Christie. ( )
  librisissimo | Dec 8, 2011 |
I think perhaps this one is my favorite in the Peter Shandy series. I love the Viking runes and the wedding and the president. Good fun. ( )
  cmbohn | Jul 4, 2007 |
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For Nancy and Charles Copeland
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Cronkite Swope, demon reporter of the Balaclava County Weekly Fane and Pennon, made some more scribbles on his wad of yellow copy paper, then fixed his eyes on his interviewee with that combination of compassionate interest and no-holds-barred determination expected of a rising young journalist.
Quotations
The clunker once driven by Jemima Ames and later, briefly, by the infamous Lorene McSpree, had flunked its last sticker test and been reduced to a foot or two of squashed recyclement. Now President Svenson had undisputed possession of the crummiest car in Balaclava County.
When a Yankee says, I want to know, he is not asking for information. He means, I am expressing a suitable degree of amazement at the news you have already imparted.
[Note for non-U.S. readers: Within the USA's Old South, anyone from north of the Mason-Dixon line is a Yankee and the term is insulting. North of the Mason-Dixon line, only people from the New England states are Yankees. Ms. MacLeod was using 'Yankee' in the "New Englander' sense.]
What could Porble have done with that mob? Bop them over the head with Webster's Unabridged? Drive them off with hard words? Fine them a nickle a tresspass? (Peter Shandy)
He could have glared. He glares beautifully. Any man who can reduce a library full of students to absolute silence with one haughty glance is not to be taken lightly. (Helen Shandy)
He shouldn't be risking his own life, if it came to that, now that he had a wife and a cat to care for. But how was a person supposed to protect himself against someone who attacked with such crazy weapons in such unpredicatable ways?
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