A very dark heart beats at the core of this brief, light entertainment. It belongs to Aubrey Moon, the eponymous “cannibal,” known to many as a great writer and man of the world, and known by some as a diabolically petty fiend. Now, a week before his 75th birthday, someone has set in motion a scheme to get him killed. Pierre Chambrun cares not a whit about Moon’s health, but he cares deeply about the sanctity of the Hotel Beaumont, where he serves as general manager and where Moon owns a penthouse suite.Chambrun, here in his début effort as the sleuth-hero of a long-running series, comes across as a masterful, almost omniscient figure. (Along with upholding his regular duties and solving a crime or two, he engineers a romance between two of this tale’s putative suspects.) Yet his character seems strangely peripheral to the action, and his feats of detection are easy to anticipate. Moon remains the primary focus of attention, with a black personality that stains everything that it touches. Of secondary interest is the Beaumont, a grand Fifth Avenue establishment that caters to the crustiest of New York’s upper crust. Pentecost ably endows the place with an aura of being a city within a city—it employs more than 1,200 people—and a return visit there might be worth the rack rent.
HUGH PENTECOST. The Cannibal Who Overate (1962).