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The Saint Valentine's Day Murders (1984)

by Ruth Dudley Edwards

Series: Robert Amiss (2)

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791345,495 (3.61)7
"The plotting and the mechanics of the solution are in the best traditions of the classic British mystery...Try not to miss this one." --New York Times Life in a dismal bureaucratic cul-de-sac is not what Robert Amiss expects when the British civil service lends him for a year to the British Conservation Corporation. In fact, he finds himself condemned to a non-job in a backwater, managing disgruntled and demoralized timeservers who deeply resent him. Morale is not improved by the arrival of Melissa, a radical feminist lesbian separatist. Only Amiss's sense of humour and the joys of visiting Rachel, his new love in Paris, keep him sane. The malice, envy and anger that burgeons among the filing cabinets is first expressed in pettiness and then in unpleasant practical jokes. Then it escalates and finally culminates in callous murder by means of boxes of poisoned chocolates sent to the bureaucrats' wives. With the help of Ellis Pooley, a young detective obsessed with fictional sleuths, Amiss and his friend, Superintendent Milton, search for motives in an office where marital discord and broken dreams might drive anyone to murder.… (more)
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The mystery here is secondary to the satire of British government in its minor, twisted, stultifying worst. Not Edwards' best work---the plot is so improbable as to be ridiculous---but still well above the ordinary series mysteries on the market. ( )
  Matke | May 19, 2010 |
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"The plotting and the mechanics of the solution are in the best traditions of the classic British mystery...Try not to miss this one." --New York Times Life in a dismal bureaucratic cul-de-sac is not what Robert Amiss expects when the British civil service lends him for a year to the British Conservation Corporation. In fact, he finds himself condemned to a non-job in a backwater, managing disgruntled and demoralized timeservers who deeply resent him. Morale is not improved by the arrival of Melissa, a radical feminist lesbian separatist. Only Amiss's sense of humour and the joys of visiting Rachel, his new love in Paris, keep him sane. The malice, envy and anger that burgeons among the filing cabinets is first expressed in pettiness and then in unpleasant practical jokes. Then it escalates and finally culminates in callous murder by means of boxes of poisoned chocolates sent to the bureaucrats' wives. With the help of Ellis Pooley, a young detective obsessed with fictional sleuths, Amiss and his friend, Superintendent Milton, search for motives in an office where marital discord and broken dreams might drive anyone to murder.

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