The Wrong Rite

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

American Mystery Award winner Charlotte MacLeod serves up another warmly humorous and suspenseful yarn in THE WRONG RITE, the fifth offering in her series featuring Detective Inspector Madoc Rhys of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and wife Janet, an equally clever sleuth.

When the Rhyses arrive at Uncle Caradoc’s, they encounter numerous relatives, their guests, and various locals. Some are eccentric and some are just plain bothersome. Mary “the Mouse” is both.

A distant cousin, Mary is an aficionado of sorcery, a pastime about which she lectures at length. She is particularly obsessed by the subject at present, because Sir Caradoc’s birthday falls on Beltane, the old May Day. On this day, people built fires and jumped over them, believing this would protect the land and crops—some still do. Mary, who claims to be an expert jumper, is eager to prepare for and perform the ritual. And therein lies a tale.

One possible drawback is that THE WRONG RITE does not really become a mystery until the reader is well into the book. The first half is mostly expository, with no definite foreshadowing of evil.

However, this is light reading, and those familiar with Madoc, Janet, and company will be delighted by infant Dorothy and the goings on in general, and should not find this long build-up to the mystery anything but fun. Those new to the series should just sit back, relax, and enjoy the romp.