Murder in Perspective: An Architectural Mystery

Murder in Perspective: An Architectural Mystery

by Keith Miles
     
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
British author Miles, who also writes as Edward Marston, introduces a series celebrating the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright but turns in a merely workmanlike performance. In the 1920s, young Welsh architect Merlin Richards hears the siren call of Wright's genius and travels to the U.S. in hopes of meeting Wright. His quest leads him to the Arizona desert outside Phoenix, where the Arizona Biltmore (completed in 1929) is being constructed. Richards is befriended by Rosa Lustig, a beautiful young designer, and one of the many Wright acolytes drawn to the Biltmore project. An abrasively independent sort, Lustig arouses both sexual and professional passions among the small band constructing the monumental Wright-designed building in the desert. When she is violently murdered, the newly arrived Richards becomes a prime suspect. Miles does an excellent job of weaving Wright (who plays a limited role in this novel) and his work into the fabric of the story, which he peoples with characters who accurately reflect the awe, resentment and jealousy inspired by Wright's work and person. Wright's role in the building and design of the Arizona Biltmore remains a subject of debate (officially he was a "consultant," not the architect), and Miles uses this to good effect. But as a lead character, Richards needs stronger definitionDespecially when set against a powerhouse like WrightDto make this series succeed. (Mar.)
Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
British author Miles, who also writes as Edward Marston, introduces a series celebrating the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright but turns in a merely workmanlike performance. In the 1920s, young Welsh architect Merlin Richards hears the siren call of Wright's genius and travels to the U.S. in hopes of meeting Wright. His quest leads him to the Arizona desert outside Phoenix, where the Arizona Biltmore (completed in 1929) is being constructed. Richards is befriended by Rosa Lustig, a beautiful young designer, and one of the many Wright acolytes drawn to the Biltmore project. An abrasively independent sort, Lustig arouses both sexual and professional passions among the small band constructing the monumental Wright-designed building in the desert. When she is violently murdered, the newly arrived Richards becomes a prime suspect. Miles does an excellent job of weaving Wright (who plays a limited role in this novel) and his work into the fabric of the story, which he peoples with characters who accurately reflect the awe, resentment and jealousy inspired by Wright's work and person. Wright's role in the building and design of the Arizona Biltmore remains a subject of debate (officially he was a "consultant," not the architect), and Miles uses this to good effect. But as a lead character, Richards needs stronger definition-especially when set against a powerhouse like Wright-to make this series succeed.
VOYA - John Charles
Merlin Richards had to escape. If he had spent one more minute working in his father's architectural firm designing buildings based on the neoclassical box structure, whatever artistic talent he might have would have slowly evaporated. Ultimately, it is a letter from Frank Lloyd Wright that gives Merlin the final push to get out on his own. Merlin worships Wright and cannot get enough of his original, organic style of architecture. When Wright dashes off a few sentences in response to a fan letter from Merlin, inviting Merlin to come and see him if he ever gets to America, Merlin packs his bags and sets off for the United States. Merlin faces more than a few setbacks before he finally catches up with Wright. Merlin's wallet is stolen in New York City, his luggage disappears in Chicago, and when he arrives in Spring Green, Wisconsin, the home of Wright, he is informed that the great architect has left for Phoenix. By the time Merlin arrives in Arizona, his luck takes a turn for the better. Merlin meets up with Rosa Lustig, a beautiful young designer who offers Merlin a ride out to the construction site when Merlin arrives, so he spends a few days platonically camping out with Rosa, taking a look at the grand hotel, and getting to know some of the other people involved with the construction of the Biltmore. Tragedy strikes the construction site when Rosa is brutally murdered, her head crushed by one of the concrete blocks used in building the hotel. Merlin becomes the prime suspect for Rosa's murder, and it is up to him to uncover the real killer. Murder in Perspective is a fascinating mystery built on a solid, historically correct foundation. Details about the construction of the Biltmore are seamlessly woven into the plot, and the author gives readers a few illuminating glimpses into the private life of Frank Lloyd Wright. Miles has mastered the art of writing a good historical mystery by giving enough details to set the period and place, but not so many that they slow down the pace of the plot or detract from the mystery. Some readers may be familiar with his mysteries set in Elizabethan times, written under the pseudonym Edward Marston. Setting and time period are not all this mystery has going for it. A colorful cast of characters is included, too, ranging from the idealistic, somewhat naïve Merlin to a couple of police officers whose occasional salty comments would allow them both to fit in comfortably with a modern-day police force. This title is recommended for collections where historical fiction or mysteries are popular with young adults. VOYA Codes: 5Q 2P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Kirkus Reviews
Stifled by the prospect of toiling for a lifetime in his autocratic father's safe architectural practice, Merlin Richards packs his harp and sails off from Wales to America in search of his idol, the irascible Frank Lloyd Wright. Since the year is 1928, Wright is to be found in Phoenix, hovering around the Arizona Biltmore—a building on which he's working as a consultant to forgettable architect-of-record Albert Chase McArthur. Wright, who hates having less than total control of any project, is in no mood to welcome acolyte Merlin with open arms. But Merlin does get a warmer welcome from Rosa Lustig, a talented interior designer who gives him a lift, stands him to a meal, and takes him into her tent (but nothing more, whatever her hopeful beau Pete Bickley, a guard at the Biltmore site, may claim). Rosa is fresh and appealing, more interesting in every way than the suspects who survive when she's bashed to death with one of the ubiquitous decorative concrete blocks that seem to be Wright's most visible remaining contribution to the Biltmore. Once she's dead, stunned Merlin has nothing better to do than get arrested as the obvious suspect, get sprung just in time to be hoodwinked by a bogus newspaper columnist, and ask enough questions to pick out the nondescript killer.

Miles, a.k.a. Edward Marston (The Lions of the North, 1995, etc.), presents towering, whimsical Wright and his newest creation ("not simply a fabulous architectural concept, it was an optical illusion") in a suitably theatrical light. Only the mystery itself is pallid.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802732989
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
03/28/1997
Series:
Merlin Richards Mystery Series
Pages:
246
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 8.58(h) x 1.05(d)

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