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The Marx Sisters

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Two Scotland Yard detectives investigate the murder of Karl Marx's great-granddaughters (via an illegitimate son) and the theft of the unpublished manuscript of a fourth volume of Das Kapital, in this engrossing mystery from an Australian writer making his American debut. When 60-something Meredith Winterbottom is found dead in her London flat, Det. Sgt. Kathy Kolla and Chief Inspector David Brock are called in to determine the cause: was she murdered? Meredith and her two sisters had refused to sell their apartment to developers hoping to gentrify Jerusalem Lane, a charming neighborhood where Eastern European immigrants pass the time debating philosophical points and harboring ancient grudges. Kolla and Brock uncover a host of suspicious characters, but the coroner rules death by suicide. The case is reopened six months later, when Meredith's sister Eleanor is murdered. The remaining sister, Peg, who looks like the Queen Mother but is an unreconstructed Stalinist who spouts her great-grandfather's theories while serving tea in fine china, fears for her life. The detectives wade though a maze of misleading clues until, in a dramatic finale, Kolla realizes the strange truth behind the crimes. Maitland has a disconcerting affection for red herrings, which he strews about with a heavy hand. But his deft depiction of his idiosyncratic characters, his evocative portrayal of Jerusalem Lane and his clever use of Marxist theories and history make this nothing less than a Kapital read. (June) FYI: The Marx Sisters was shortlisted for the British Crime Writers Association's John Creasy Award for Best First Mystery. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

When one of the three elderly Marx sisters (great-granddaughters of Karl Marx) living in a small London neighborhood dies suddenly, her doctor suspects foul play and informs the police. Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla and Scotland Yard's David Brock pursue the case, finding ample motive for murder in the woman's refusal to accede to an ambitious developer's financial enticements: she was the only hold-out on Jerusalem Lane, once home to Karl Marx. Because several stood to gain from the old woman's deathÄincluding her sonÄKolla and Brock widen their net. Good, solid prose marks this first-of-a-series procedural. Fine work from an award-winning British mystery writer. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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