Bones in the Belfry
Irony and wit abound in Molehill, Surrey, where Francis Oughterard serves as vicar to a parish full of oddball characters and as owner-by-default of a snooty cat and rambunctious dog. The pets’ commentaries, interspersed with the vicar’s own narration, are one of the delights in this, the second “Bones” novel by Suzette Hill. Chief among the ironies is Hill’s hilarious and vivid character Mrs. Tubbly Pole, who, though a successful detective novelist, insists that characters are unimportant since all readers care about is action. Those looking for a complicated, twisting plot may be disappointed, for here character trumps action on every page. The fretting aspirin-and-whiskey-chugging vicar’s attempts to hide stolen paintings he has been blackmailed into accepting, and the resulting antics of the town’s pets (who communicate with each other far better than many of the people do, and are equally prone to quirks and petty animosities) constitute the plot. This is 1950s English country life done up Seinfeld style, complete with a gin-drinking bulldog. It should appeal to fans of Martha Grimes, Saki, and Wodehouse.