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Posts Tagged ‘Gladys Mitchell’

Ask a Policeman

Lord Comstock is murdered in his country house.  There are plenty of suspects – Mills, his secretary; an Archbishop who had a loud altercation with him minutes before he died; the Parliamentary Chief Whip who had called to see him; and a commissioner of police who had also called to see him.  That’s not to mention the servants and any stranger who happened to be passing the gates of his house from which his open study window was visible.

John Rhode describes the initial crime and Helen Simpson, Gladys Mitchell, Dorothy L Sayers and Anthony Berkeley each propose a solution using each other’s detective characters. Milward Kennedy wraps it all up with yet another solution. In each version new facts are revealed as well as new red herrings.

In other hands this could have been an unfortunate mish-mash but these writers were masters of their craft and the result is entertaining and intriguing and has stood the test of time extremely well in my opinion.  It is good to see these entertaining books in print again and they are perfect reading for anyone who loves the Golden Age of Crime as well as being a good introduction for anyone who hasn’t read any books by these authors before.

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Dance to your Daddy

Mrs Bradley is asked to meet Rosamund Lestrange, who is a distant relative of her first husband. Is Rosamund mad or is she much misunderstood and kept virtually under house arrest by someone who claims to be her husband?

Mrs Bradley isn’t sure when she first meets the lady concerned but she knows there is something fishy going on when she is given a room where someone could take a pot shot at her while she is in bed and probably kill her.

I found this a sinister and disturbing read with some very strange characters. The book is well written and well plotted and I would defy any reader to work out what is really going on until close to the end of the story. The clues are there when you look back but it is difficult to identify and differentiate between clues and red herrings.

If you like your mysteries in the classic mould then try Mrs Bradley for an intelligent detective and well constructed plots and motivations.

 

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The Echoing Strangers

Mrs Bradley is in Norfolk visiting an old school friend when she sees a man push a woman into the river. Mrs Bradley and her chauffer George pull the lady out of the river though she tells them firmly it was an accident. Mrs Bradley is far from being convinced by this and decides to rent the riverside bungalow next door. She soon discovers that the young man she saw is deaf and dumb following an accident as a child and since then he has lived in Norfolk with Miss Higgs who is paid to look after him.

The young man, Francis is one of a pair of twins. His brother, Derek, lives with his grandfather though the grandfather seems to have cast off Francis following the accident which killed his parents. When a body is discovered attached to the dinghy moored at the bottom of the garden Mrs Bradley senses more trouble and when this is followed by a death at a cricket match held by the twins’ grandfather it seems too much of a coincidence.

This is a sinister story with an unsettling atmosphere of many things left unsaid. I found it a disturbing read with an excellent plot and interesting characters. The book is well written as are all this excellent series. Mrs Bradley’s profession of psychologist always adds depth to he rinvestigations. The series can be read in any order and I recommend them to readers who enjoy Ngaio Marsh and Agatha Christie.

 

 

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Dead Men's Morris

Mrs Bradley goes to stay with her nephew, Carey Lestrange who is a pig famer in Oxfordshire. It soon becomes clear to the astute Mrs Bradley that there is definitely something odd going on in the neighbourhood. When a local solicitor is found dead in the early hours of Christmas morning Mrs B’s suspicions are confirmed. While the death is ruled to be from natural causes she isn’t convinced and when another death takes place she starts investigating.

There are plenty of apparently spooky goings on in this memorable mystery and there are secret passages and priest holes as well as Morris dancing to add to the atmosphere of a rural area with plenty going on behind the scenes. I must admit I had worked out who the murderer was quite early on as well as identifying the motivation of the murderer but it was still interesting seeing how it all worked out.

I recommend the Mrs Bradley mysteries to anyone who enjoys Ngaio Marsh and Agatha Christie. These are crime novels which fall very much into the Golden Age of detective story writing. The series can be read in any order.

 

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Three Quick And Five Dead

A young woman is found dead in a wood and Laura Gavin is the unlucky person who finds the body when her Irish Wolfhound, Fergus goes missing. Mrs Bradley – Laura’s employer – is naturally interested in the case and when another corpse is found shortly afterwards – killed by the same method – it starts to seem as though the area around Wandles Parva is harbouring a serial killer.

This is a compelling and complex mystery written very much in the classic mould. The background, involving as it does some excursions into the highways and byways of early Christian heresies is well written. The characters are believable and the motivations plausible and with plenty of suspects readers will have their work cut out to track down the murderer before the combined efforts of Mrs Bradley, Laura and the police can reveal who did it.

A fascinating and disturbing read with excellent atmosphere and background – recommended to all classic mystery lovers.

 

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My Bones Will Keep

Dame Beatrice Bradley and her secretary Laura Gavin travel to Scotland for Dame Beatrice to attend a conference. When they get there she decides she doesn’t need Laura with her and suggests that she has a holiday and does some touring round Scotland.

Laura jumps at the chance of a break from everyone including her family and sets off happily. While she is out walking one day she gets soaking wet in a sudden downpour and finds herself transported – partly against her will – to a rundown house on an island in a loch. She is invited to stay but decides discretion is the better part of valour and leaves during the night.

Then Laura’s problems start as she is continually seeing the same people wherever she goes and she finds out that the laird of the island which she visited has been murdered possibly while she was there.

This is a bewildering and fascinating story which contains many twists and turns before what is really going on is revealed. Fortunately Mrs Bradley finishes her conference and joins her secretary and together they manage to unravel the interconnected mysteries.

This is an enjoyable story, well told, and the descriptions of Scotland made me want to get up and go there immediately! A complex mystery in the classic mould which I can recommend to fans of Ngaio Marsh and Agatha Christie.

 

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A Hearse On May Day

Fenella – one of Mrs Bradley’s many nieces and nephews – is travelling across country to her own wedding when she stumbles across the village of Seven Wells. She stops at the pub – strangely named ‘More to Come’ – and has lunch. When she gets in her car to continue on her journey it refuses to start.

What follows is a singularly spooky and disturbing tale and Fenella later believes she is lucky to have escaped with her life. Mrs Bradley comes into the story because the local squire has been murdered and Mrs B – after hearing of Fenella’s experiences – worms her way into the murder investigation in order to look into the strange goings on at Seven Wells.

I found this a haunting mystery which almost gave me nightmares though it is an excellent and absorbing read involving ancient village customs and some particularly unpleasant characters. If you haven’t read any Mrs Bradley books then this would be a good place to start. The writing is of an excellent standard and the plotting intricate and Mrs Bradley is at her perceptive best in this book. The series can be read in any order.

 

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