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Death on the Rocks    by Eric Wright order for
Death on the Rocks
by Eric Wright
Order:  USA  Can
Dundurn Press, 2002 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Eric Wright has long been a favorite of mystery readers who have enjoyed his Charlie Salter books about a Toronto policeman. In the last few years he has started several new series, including one featuring private investigator Lucy Trimble. Lucy is a middle-aged widow who has re-invented herself as a P.I. after several years as a librarian following her husband's death. Although not as well-defined as one would like, Lucy is an appealing character with her combination of naivet9 and inexperience in both life and in her new profession.

Death on the Rocks is the second Trimble book and finds Lucy investigating the man who is asking suspicious questions about her client, the successful pottery wholesaler Greta Golden. When it turns out that the mysterious stranger is an English private detective, Michael Curnow, looking into Greta's past, Greta decides she also wants to know more and hires Lucy to start digging. Authors often use the 'mystery in the past' technique to liven up a story, and it forms the most interesting part of this novel. In this case the mystery is Greta's parentage.

Lucy initially investigates Greta's mother's life in Toronto during her student days there and then at the time of her marriage and pregnancy with Greta. Then both Lucy and Curnow end up in Cornwall working together to find out more about Greta's birth there and a suspicious accident. Wright does a good job with the Toronto, and especially the Cornish, settings. He is also skilled at creating vital minor characters such as the feisty midwife who delivered Greta 40 years before and the eccentric retired minister. However, neither of the main characters, Lucy or Curnow, really breathe life. Although there is a lukewarm promise of a future romance between them, it is hard to get that excited about it. Moreover while the plot is reasonable it is not that gripping.

In fact, to judge by this entry, the Trimble mysteries are just not as well done as the Salter novels. Wright does not seem to really have his heart in it and one wishes for the return of Charlie Salter. However, these days publishers often push 'mid-list' authors to start new series so that readers will not get bored with the old characters. Unfortunately many of us often love the old characters and resent their premature disappearance from the mystery scene. Readers who are unfamiliar with Eric Wright are urged to check their bookstores and libraries for some of the Salter books.

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