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Trick of the Mind    by Cassandra Chan order for
Trick of the Mind
by Cassandra Chan
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Cassandra Chan delivers another entertaining and intriguing winner in Trick of the Mind, her third adventure featuring an appealing pair of sleuths. First, in The Young Widow, Phillip Bethancourt and Jack Gibbons were introduced to readers in an engaging tale that was 'part crime story, part family drama, part buddy flick, and part love story.' Then, in Village Affairs, Chan's Gibbons and Bethancourt treated readers to a 'well-developed plot ... and solid investigating techniques' in 'another enjoyably lighthearted look at murder among the upper classes.'

When Trick of the Mind opens, the charming Phillip Bethancourt learns in Paris that his good friend Detective Inspector Jack Gibbons has been shot and now lies in intensive care in a London hospital. Detective Chief Inspector Carmichael prevails upon Bethancourt to help find out what happened to Gibbons.

Carmichael's and Bethancourt's inquiries, though, are complicated by several facts: Gibbons was working with New Scotland Yard's arts theft division but inexplicably was shot down while in Walworth, a somewhat less than desirable section of London that would seem to have had nothing to do with whatever Gibbons was working on; then there is the cryptic phone message alluding to 'an interesting case' that Gibbons had sent to Bethancourt shortly before the shooting; and - making everything quite complicated - Gibbons, when he recovers consciousness has no memory of either the shooting or several hours leading up to that incident.

The consensus opinions seem to point to a possible connection between the recent murder of a disreputable pawnshop owner and the more recent theft of a deceased wealthy woman's jewelry, but absolutely anything is possible, chiefly considering Gibbons' fragile health and his gradually returning memory, especially as certain tricks of the mind interfere with the wounded policeman's accurate and complete recall. So, with very little to go on - and more than a few red herrings and dead-ends exacerbating their inquiries - Bethancourt and Carmichael eagerly work out the mystery of what happened to the bewildered Gibbons.

Readers of good old fashioned British mysteries, particularly those in the superb tradition of Dorothy Sayers, Eric Ambler, Josephine Tey, Caroline Graham, Colin Dexter, and Margery Allingham (and many others - but you get the idea), will almost certainly enjoy Cassandra Chan's most highly recommended Trick of the Mind, her latest stylish and entertaining mystery. Donít miss it!

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