A Dead Man in Malta
A Seymour of Scotland Yard Mystery by Michael Pearce
Review: An investigative report by The Times of London reveals a number of suspicious deaths on the British Crown Colony of Malta, an assignment tailor made for Sandor Seymour of Scotland Yard who travels to the island nation to investigate A Dead Man in Malta, the seventh mystery in this series by Michael Pearce set in 1913.
The most recent death is of a German balloonist, who after a rough and rapid landing in the coastal waters, was admitted to a hospital for observation, though from all outward appearances he was fine; the doctors simply wanting to make sure there was no delayed reaction from altitude sickness. Hours later, he was dead — the third such case of a death at the hospital with no outward cause. The British government, fearing war in Europe is imminent and knowing how strategic the island's location is in the Mediterranean, need the support of the local population. Any "mysterious deaths", as The Times had proclaimed, need to be explained … and promptly. Seymour arrives and is immediately confounded by the mix of cultures present, including signs in Anglicized Arabic. Yet, he notes, "On the face of it, the hospital was as English as English could be. But underneath?"
The mysteries in this series are typically more focused on character and setting (both time and place) than plot, and A Dead Man in Malta is no exception. Malta and its capital Valletta have a fascinating history, and the author (through Seymour) takes delight in describing it to the reader. The men's deaths are, of course, soon confirmed to be murders, but the motive for them — and by extension, the identity of the killer — seem weakly developed. Seymour is in top form, though, taking note of the various incidents that took place at the hospital and piecing together the puzzle. Still, despite the relative shortness of the book, it seems to take too long to get to the denouement, which itself, seems to come and pass with barely a turn of a page and little to show for it.
Fans of the series will likely enjoy A Dead Man in Malta but it is probably not the best introduction to the series for new readers.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of A Dead Man in Malta for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
A Dead Man in Barcelona
Soho Constable (Hardcover), December 2008
ISBN-13: 9781569475379; ISBN-10: 1569475377
Location(s) referenced in A Dead Man in Malta: Malta
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A Dead Man in Malta by Michael Pearce — A Seymour of Scotland Yard Mystery
Publisher: Soho Constable
Publication Date: November 2010
List Price: $25.00