Mather: A Novel Hardcover – Jun 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
There's a fine line between enigmatic and just plain half-baked, and Monninger (Incident at Potter's Bridge) crosses it in this story about a New Hampshire backwoodsman. Mather Edson lives in a cabin, having turned his back on a past that includes amateur wrestling. Peggy Ramsey, an old friend from a wealthy Park Avenue family, turns up, asking him to find her daughter, whom her husband has kidnapped in hopes of ransom. In prose more poached than hard-boiled, Monninger gives Peggy "the look you sometimes see on women in laundromats." Motivations are widely scattered, e.g., the missing husband is either a moral crusader, a failed jock or a sadistic leech; Peggy is variously a tease, a lush or a concerned mother. Mather himself seems mostly just weird. His behavior is occasionally intriguing (he poses as a blind man in New York City), but he's not a convincing enough character to carry this sluggish tale.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Mather Edson descends from the New Hampshire mountaintop where he lives with his beloved Airedale, Nancy, only to assist friends in trouble. When Peggy Ramsey's three-year-old daughter goes missing, apparently kidnapped by Peggy's estranged husband, Mather takes action. Mather and Peggy served together in the Peace Corps in Africa; after the Corps, Mather retired to the woods while Peggy returned to her life as a New York socialite. Refreshingly, Mather carries no heavy mantle of cynicism or disillusionment; he simply prefers his own company, or, on occasion, that of his closest neighbor, former Mountie Billy Parker, who raises llamas and reads Thomas Hardy. Unlike many crime fiction heroes, Mather is not reactively violent: he lets two muggers escape without permanent damage, and he chooses not to kill when, within the genre's conventions, he could justifiably do so. He even manages to initiate a mature, loving relationship with a woman his own age. All in all, this is an extremely promising new series, and Mather may be the most engaging sleuth to appear since Kinsey Milhone was back at the beginning of the alphabet. George Needham