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Charles Wycliffe and his wife Helen are on holiday when they are introduced to David Cleeve who writes as Peter Stride. He has made himself a fortune and Helen is a fan. But the author steers clear of all publicity and is a very private person. He consults Wycliffe on a professional basis once her realises he is a detective because he feels his life is in danger.

Unfortunately Cleeve won't give Wycliffe enough information to follow it up and see if the threats are genuine. Then a young girl is found dead - poisoned by means of a dart spiked with nicotine. Naturally Wycliffe is asked to take over the case.

At first it seems an almost motiveless crime but gradually Wycliffe and his colleagues uncover layers of deceit and secrets long hidden. No one is exactly as they seem and many leads trace back to an archaeological dig which Cleeve has funded on his own land. I enjoyed this well written and complex story and the clues are well placed - including plenty of red herrings. Cleeve is a memorable character - larger than life but never tipping over into excess.

I recommend this series to anyone who likes their crime novels in the classic mould but with plenty of psychological depth. These books are far more than bland police procedurals and Wycliffe himself makes a change from the usual hard bitten detective with the drink problem and the impossible personal relationships. He has his moments of irritability and he prefers to mull over his theories by himself but overall he is a likeable character.
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on 5 January 2014
I really enjoyed this Wycliffe murder story, and although I guessed correctly about the change of identity of one of the main charactersI had no idea who did the murders, how or why until the end. Just what I like.
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2007
Another wonderful Wycliffe mystery.

W.J.Burley combines so much in his crime fiction novels and this is one of the best for me.

Complex as usual so far as character and plot are concerned; the usual evocative scenery in elusive areas of Cornwall, known only to locals. Wycliffe is supposed to be on holiday with the ever patient Helen but becomes involved in a crime involving a complicated network of relationships in a small community which stretches back over 3 decades. There's so much here: Wycliffe's recall of academic memorabilia; his relations with colleagues; an underlying sexuality which is only ever subliminal but makes the reader feel that a night with him might be memorable!!!! His interest in food and wine - and then there's his cynicism which seems to be always in conflict with his idealism. He states his politics in this novel but it's still mystifying. Wycliffe is an enigmatic character yet his wife accepts that even though they have just started their holiday she understands his immediate involvement in a local crime and she goes her own way taking ferries, doing local sight-seeing alone withour a murmur of complaint - and serves veal cutlets and wine when he finally turns up for supper. They both deserve medals. Brilliant. I read this in 2 sittings. I love Wycliffe but I could not be married to him!!!!!!!!!
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on 8 September 2007
I enjoyed 'Wycliffe And The Four Jacks.' As with the others, it is a good topographical insight into Cornwall, as well as a well written thriller. However, the constant crude use of the term for sex,by the main character, was uncalled for. He was an unlikeable, selfish, sex mad, womanizer. I do not see, why women stay with such men. They could earn a living. I assume, that the reviewer loves hischaracter, as portrayed, on paper. Helen came over, as humorous, and adaptable, although the veal part grated with me. The obtaining of it is cruel. I did not see the need to bring in his supposed sexuality. He comes over as a man who is sensitive, and feels deeply, and questions his work constantly. and I can sympathize, with his opinion, on Cleeve's murder.

The standard of printing was below normal. On Page 53 'Condemned,' was spelled as 'Contemned.' there was also, constant misuse of the phrases 'Each Other,' and 'One Another.' the former is used for two people, and the latter, for more than two. these should have been corrected, prior to publication.

The story differed a lot, on TV, particularly the ending, as a lot of them do.this is possibly, because they have to be condensed into about 50 minutes, and the different tastes of that audience.
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on 30 January 2015
Great book, well written by W.J Burley, the Wycliffe series are great if you prefer the murder mysterie genre. Would recommend if you also enjoy the Ruth Rendells, Agatha Christie books..
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I have enjoyed reading WJBurley but I'm afraid to say this title didn't come up to scratch therefore three stars. Maybe other readers may find it interesting
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on 27 May 2013
I love all the Wycliffe books and buy as I see them. I really enjoy the T.V series as well
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on 13 November 2015
excellent book. I really like it
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on 4 November 2014
Good price. Good delivery.
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on 10 September 2013
each of the authors books are spell binding you do not get bored with the story line very addictive if you like these kinds of books
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