The Counterfeit Murder in the Museum of Man
A Norman de Ratour Mystery
By Alfred Alcorn
(Steerforth, Paperback, 9781581952346, 336pp.)
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
List Price: $15.99*
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When Norman de Ratour discovers the body of Heinrich von Grümh in a car outside his beloved Museum of Man, he knows he faces a sticky public relations mess. What he doesn’t know is that the gun used to kill the honorary curator is his own Smith & Wesson revolver. Implicated, publicly embarrassed, his life’s work in danger, Norman becomes the prime per- son on a list of unusual suspects.
Along the way, he both lives with and is aided by Alphus, former denizen of the Primate Pavilion and a creature who has an intellect to be reckoned with as well as a low, finely ar- ticulated opinion of the human species. As Norman endeavors to find the villain and clear his name, he learns that more than coins gets counterfeited — that people, from the ravishing merry widow Merissa Bonne to the dour Feidhlimidh de Buitliér, are not always what they purport to be.
Replete with institutional spoofery, a plot hedged like a garden maze, and a literate style that treats the English language like the verbal funhouse it is, this third in the Norman de Ratour murder mysteries series sustains the genre invented by Poe while twisting and bending it into new forms.
Alfred Alcorn is former director of travel at Harvard University’s Museum of Natural History. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts.