An ancient legend, an all-too modern murder, and Chief Superintendent Wycliffe must find the link between them ...Every year, at Halloween, high on the Cornish cliffs, a life-sized effigy of a man is strapped to a blazing wheel and run into the sea - a re-enactment of a hideous old legend where the figure had been a living sacrifice. And now Jonathan Riddle, well-known and respected local builder and undertaker, has disappeared - and it seems all too likely that his corpse has gone the way of the historic 'scapegoat'. As Chief Superintendent Wycliffe begins to investigate, more and more unpleasant facts emerge until he is left with an incredible, and seemingly impossible, solution ...
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(179mm x 114mm x 15mm)
Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
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UK Kirkus Review »
Jonathan Riddle, builder and undertaker, is an odd and unpopular man, so when he disappears there are many people who might not be sorry to see the back of him, especially as he has decided to marry late in life. How will this affect the mother and sister who live with him? Or his weak and nervy nephew who works for him and whose swindling he has recently discovered? Laura, the woman he wants to marry so that she can look after him in his old age, has an ex-husband who is drunk and resentful, her 16-year old daughter finds Jonathan repulsive and her former brother-in-law rents land that Riddle has recently bought. Rumours are going round, too, that Riddle's body has been used in an annual ceremony where a wheel holding an effigy is plunged over the Cornish cliffs: the organizer of this festival has a daughter with an illegitimate baby and she's refusing to name the father. In the eighth of W J Burley's detective series, Chief Superintendent Wycliffe has been present at this ceremony and is called in to investigate the mystery. Scrupulous and taciturn as ever, he applies the methods that work so well for him: he never drives when he can walk, using the time to look and think and build up a clear picture of what turns out to be the murder victim; he casts about with his questions, often with no clear target in mind, but gradually makes progress. More modern colleagues may struggle with his sketchy reports and disapprove of his refusal to be tied to his desk, but he builds up the facts in his head, often using details that are so tenuous they cannot be put in a report until, finally, in a case bedevilled by gossip and superstition, he reaches a surprising conclusion. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - W. J. Burley
W.J. Burley lived near Newquay in Cornwall, and was a schoolmaster until he retired to concentrate on his writing. His many Wycliffe novels were extremely popular and were adapted for a highly successful TV series starring Jack Shepherd. W.J. Burley died in 2002.