Sunday, January 03, 2010

THE TELLING OF LIES by Timothy Findley (1989)

In this mystery, everyone seems to be a liar, including Vanessa Van Horne, our narrator and sleuth. Vanessa is holidaying for the last summer at the Aurora Sands Hotel (it is closing) on the eastern seaboard when Calder Maddox, an elderly and excessively wealthy businessman expires in his beach chair in broad daylight on the day that an iceberg has floated into view.

There is a flurry of activity as Maddox's wife is brought to the hotel and his longtime mistress is conveniently disappeared. What perplexes Vanessa and her MD cousin Lawrence is the discovery that Maddox's corpse is being kept on ice as important government agents descend on this sleepy retreat.

Not one to abandon her curious ways even when threatened, Vanessa, with the help of her friend Mercedes, uncovers ugly truths that lead her to solve the mystery.

This is not Findley's best novel (for me that would be either FAMOUS LAST WORDS or NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE), though it was given the 1989 Edgar Award for the best mystery book in Canada. He does know how to tell a story, and Vanessa albeit irksome is memorable.

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