Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review of "Miss Seeton Rocks the Cradle" by Hamilton Crane




Years ago I read several "Miss Seeton" books by Heron Carvic (the original author of the series) and enjoyed them very much. Miss Emily Dorothea Seeton is a gray-haired, retired art teacher who - due to her daily yoga exercises - is unusually agile and spry. Miss Seeton (or MissEss as she's dubbed at Scotland Yard) has the uncanny ability to aid criminal investigations with her perceptive drawings. Miss Seeton also tends to cause havoc wherever she goes and has been known to foil crooks with her trusty brolly (umbrella)....always on hand in case of rain. Miss Seeton is especially amusing because she's generally oblivious to the criminal activity around her.

In this additon to the series, written by Hamilton Crane, a baby named Marguerite MacSporran - the child of Scottish aristocrats Lord and Lady Glenclachan - is kidnapped. The kidnappers soon get cold feet and leave the infant in a phone booth, where (of course) Miss Seeton finds her. Lord and Lady Glenclachan are very grateful to Miss Seeton for rescuing Marguerite, and take the art teacher back to Scotland with them for a wee visit. First, however, Miss Seeton is cajoled into making a sketch that (eventually) helps the police catch the baby snatchers.

When Miss Seeton goes to Scotland, ace reporter Amelita (Mel) Forby follows, thinking MissEss will generate some juicy news stories. Mel takes a room in a small hotel, waits for something to happen, and is soon rewarded. Miss Seeton ventures out for a walk.....and finds a dead body!

While in Scotland, both Miss Seeton and Mel chat with local residents and learn a good bit about Scottish history and the House of Stuart - the 'true heirs' to the British throne as far as the Scots are concerned. It soon becomes clear that something to do with the Stuarts is brewing around Glenclachan and Miss Seeton - quite unintentionally - thrusts herself into the center of the action.

Some additional interesting characters in the story are Hamish McQueest, owner of the Pock and Tang hotel/pub - who purposely antagonizes his customers; Mrs. McScurrie, Lord and Lady Glenclachan's housekeeper, who takes a shine to Miss Seeton and fiercely protects her; and Philomena Beigg, a Scottish historian who tells a lot of interesting stories.

As the action swirls around Miss Seeton the art teacher takes recreational walks through the hills of Glenclachan, has a couple of picnics, looks at birds, meets interesting townspeople, reads her yoga book to baby Marguerite....and makes several drawings that (quite unknown to herself) reveal dark doings around town.

I enjoyed the story and thought the bits about Scottish history and geography were interesting. Miss Seeton's antics weren't as hilarious as in previous books but it's an entertaining tale, recommended to fans of cozy mysteries.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book.

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