Wednesday, January 9, 2013


The more of Charlotte MacLeod’s Peter Shandy books I read, the more convinced I am that they are wonderful parodies of traditional cozies.

MacLeod’s The Corpse in Oozak’s Pond is that way especially. The clues are wild. Many of the names are more than odd. They are outlandish. And the solution has so many torturous ins and outs that it makes you think of Hercule Poirot. 

On their annual Grounghog Day gathering, the Balaclava Agricultural College student body watches as a corpse bobs up in Oozak’s Pond. Someone has murdered the unidentified man, rammed an icepick in his brain.

The corpse is not the first to have bobbed up in the pond. Somewhere back in history there was another. This corpse, because of its appearance and situation, seems related.

Along the way, there is a second murder. There are people who may be one person, or maybe they are someone else. 

All the usual characters are there: Peter and Helen Shandy; Balaclava Agricultural College’s inimitable president Thorkjeld Svenson and his wife Sieglinde; the bumbling but likeable local law enforcement officers; the young newspaper reporter; and all the rest.

And of course, there is Charlotte MacLeod’s wonderful way with words. One example:  Peter and Helen are talking about how Helen had found out about a local couple’s red hot love affair. “By thunder, Helen,” Peter Shandy says, “I knew you could do it! Was this union, er, fructified?”

Anybody who uses the word “fructified” deserves to be read.

I plan to keep on reading Charlotte MacLeod.

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