Why does Simeon Simcox, ``left-wing cleric'' of an English village, leave the Simcox brewery millions to the morally loathsome Leslie ``The Toad'' Titmuss, city developer and Conservative cabinet minister? Simeon's sonsFred, the jazz-drumming doctor, and writer Henry, once ``Britain's brightest and angriest''conduct separate sleuthing inquiries into Simeon's life and will. Was the low-born Titmuss, who has bought and sold his upper-crust associates and climbed to power on their crippled backs, really Simeon's offspring? Barrister, playwright, scriptwriter, novelist Mortimer (Rumpole of the Bailey brings his legal expertise and somber humor to this competently cobbled, though dogged, plot that takes in the upheavals of British society from the '40s to the '70s. Where the gentry once rode to hounds, the constabulary now rides against women camping on the heath to protest the Cruise missile. Despite some funny scenes of sitcom buffoonery, readers are apt to feel indifferent to the squads of characters that Mortimer parades forth, who are largely representatives of social forces, with little human blood in them. 25,000 first printing; BOMC alternate. (April)
Mortimer, known for his Rumpole series, here offers the life of Rector Simeon Simcos in the small English village of Rapstone Fanner. LJ's reviewer found Mortimer's writing "witty and the wordplay entertaining" but thought the plot a little "flimsy" (LJ 4/1/86).