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by Barry Maitland

Arcade, 2000 (hardcover ) $24.95
ISBN 1-55970-527-2

Reviewed by S. E. Warwick

If you think the golden age of the British mystery has long passed, youíre wrong. Barry Maitland breathes new life into the genre with his Kathy and Brock mystery series.

At first blush, the scenery, characters, and situations are nothing new. THE MALCONTENTA could have easily been set in the 30ís. Rich folk sequester themselves at an exotic country spa to cleanse their bodies and souls with the latest herbal and spiritual cures.

Bodies are found, the tranquil surface of the spa obscuring the decay underneath. Enter Kathy Kolla, a talented young copper, temporarily assigned to the hinterlands in disgrace. She asks for guidance from Brock, her mentor, and a superb plot is off and running.

The structure of THE MALCONTENTA is superb. The plot moves very well with believable characters moving into and out of the action in appropriate places. The nasty bits are merely alluded to which makes them far more unsettling than a graphic description. Maitland even remembered Chekhovís admonition about the gun on the wall in the first act.

THE MALCONTENTA is what the British mystery should be, apologies to the vicar and parish cat.

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