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A Hobby of Murder
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Andrew Basnett, over 70, is stooped and, like this British mystery, seems barely to creep along. Restless after completing a time-consuming biography, the retired professor heads for a two-week country vacation at the home of old friends Mollie and Ian Davidge. He is introduced to the village notables at a dinner given by the local squire, Sam Waldron, who is replicating a menu from the 18th century. Ernest Audley, solicitor; Felicity Mace, doctor; Brian Singleton, biochemist; Brian's well-known brother Luke, an author of thrillers; and 16 others are deep in conversation at the meticulously set table when Luke collapses, poisoned by cyanide. Police Inspector Roland, conveniently at the dinner, begins the classic investigation by interrogating all guests. Motives abound, and then another body is discovered in the town's pond. Andrew's intuition is happily utilized by the unimaginative Roland, who has worked with him before. Unfortunately, the villagers are a colorless lot, the plot convoluted and contrived and even Andrew seems bored with the proceedings. (Aug.)

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