The Graveyard Position: A Novel of Suspense Hardcover – Apr 26 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Spiritualist Clarissa Cantelo's death reunites her surviving family members, an eccentric clan guarding some dark secrets, in this blackly comic whodunit from prolific British author Barnard (A Cry from the Dark). When Clarissa's nephew and heir, lawyer Merlyn Docherty, who's been living in Brussels, resurfaces after two decades, his relatives challenge his claim; everyone thought he was long dead. Motivated by self-preservation to probe the Cantelo family's twisted dynamics and complex alliances, Merlyn slowly pieces together a pattern that hints at conspiracies and sexual deviancy. An attempt on his life that claims another's suggests he's getting too close to the truth for someone's comfort. Fans of classic murder puzzles will be delighted by the careful hiding of clues in plain sight. Few writers of contemporary mysteries can equal Barnard's ability to meld a clever fair-play plot with satire.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Aunt Clarissa has just died, leaving everything (she was heir to a shirt-manufacturing fortune) to her nephew Merlyn, who has been living abroad for years in Brussels. When Merlyn returns to Leeds to claim his rightful inheritance, he confronts his dysfunctional extended family once again, all of whom are surprised to see that he is still alive, since Aunt Clarissa had suggested otherwise. But there is more in the air than simply the usual family discord--in fact, the atmosphere hints of a family conspiracy to keep information away from him. The body "in question" here--Barnard writes, after all, traditional British whodunits--is not Aunt Clarissa's but, as it turns out, that of the old family patriarch who died years ago. Barnard's novels may be traditional, but they are certainly not tired. His latest Police Sergeant Charlie Peace tale is a fresh take on family inheritance, at the same time exhibiting all the author's greatly appreciated traits, including charm, wit, and excellent pacing. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Robert Barnard's "The Graveyard Position" is a talky and occasionally amusing psychological mystery about a dysfunctional and mean-spirited family. Grandfather Cantelo, the patriarch, was a vicious and self-centered man who brought up his large brood to compete with one another. As a result, the Cantelo family is comprised of bitter and suspicious misfits rather than loving and cooperative relatives. When Merlyn gets to know the Cantelos, he finds them to be a repellant bunch. However, he needs to stick around long enough to prove that he is indeed Merlyn and to claim his rightful inheritance.
Most of this book consists of long-winded conversations between Merlyn and his family, the police, and people who knew the Cantelos over the years. In addition, Merlyn reminisces about his troubled childhood, and he does his own research into the Cantelo family history. Ultimately, he unearths an explosive secret that his family has been taking great pains to hide for many years. All of this adds up to an intermittently engrossing, but rather tame, novel, in which the author tries to be funny and serious at the same time. Barnard's story does provide valuable insight into the stresses that can tear families apart, and there are some genuinely funny moments here and there. However, the "The Graveyard Position" lacks the suspense and the satirical bite that has made Barnard so effective in the past.
up my mind about him. "Graveyard Position" cinched it for me.
Merlyn Cantelo inherits his late aunt Clarissa,s money and
home. Clarissa was a clairvoyant and just happened to be
most likely the sanest member of the totally dysfunctional
Cantelo Family. Clarisse sent Merlyn away years ago as she
feared for his safety and now hearing of her death he returns
for her funeral and finds he still has to fear for his safety-
from his own family. I don't like many present day mysteries
having mainly preferred late 1800's and early 1900's mysteries-
best ever written but I am glad I decided to read this book.
Now I will have to go out and bring myself up on other
-- Debra Hamel
Upon his aunt's death, he returns. Some of the family are sceptical of his identity, but he quickly establishes his bona fides by means of DNA testing. In fact, later in the book, DNA testing becomes a quick fix to the solution of an attempted murder. As a plot twist, "never mind there's no proof or witnesses, a DNA test will prove you're guilty" is a little facile.
Much is made of the fact that Aunt Clarissa is a clairvoyant, but it doesn't really fit into the plot in any meaningful way. Also, the idea that the personalities of an entire family would be warped by a competition among the kids for allowance money is a little strange. It seems all kinds of behavior might result from that, not just that they are all competitive with each other.
In sum, pretty superficial.
Merlyn Cantelo returns to his home town of Leeds. He has come back to the city to claim the house of a late aunt. An aunt, who adopted him after a tormented early childhood. His late aunt had a `gift.' She was known as a medium or as she preferred to be called a clairvoyant. She had predicted that there would be violence in Merlyn's future life and had suggested to him that he should live abroad with her distant family in Italy.
Now Merlyn has returned to Leeds, a place that has both good and bad memories for him. Now that he is back is he about to find out the real truth about his aunt's prediction . . .