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#1954Club – what a bumper year it was! But where next??? 😊

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Well, that was a bit of a wonderful week, wasn’t it? I suspected from the start that 1954 would be a great year, and it really was! So many marvellous books have been read and discussed, and I imagine that all of your tbrs are now bulging – I’ve certainly added quite a few titles to the wishlist.

Anyway, below are the books I read for 1954 (the Maigret isn’t pictured because it was an e-book) and they turned out to be a marvellous selection. Classic crime is always likely to make an appearance, and both the Simenon and the Mitchell were wonderful reads. “The Horse and His Boy” was a much more enjoyable experience than I anticipated; and the double-header of two parts of the “Lord of the Rings” was just perfect.

However, the week was not without its glitches! I stumbled across a couple of issues with dates; somehow, I got it into my head that Mervyn Peake’s “The Craft of the Lead Pencil” was published in 1954 when in face it came out in 1946! As I had read this before I realised, I’ll post some thoughts about it at a later date! Then I had included Mishima’s “Sound of the Waves” as a possible read but my copy said 1956 in the front. I discarded it as an option and then realised that it came out in Japanese in 1954 but the translation was 1956 – doh!!! I was going to say that I need to always check the actual book rather than an online list, but that’s obvs not the case. I guess for the next club I shall just have to look more closely.

More seriously, I encountered a DNF! I had actually bought a book specifically to read for 1954, and it was one I’d been keen on tracking down for a while – “Pictures from an Institution” by Randall Jarrell. I picked up a lovely old orange Penguin copy and started it enthustically; however, I soon faltered and found that what I’d seen described as a humorous novel was not only leaving me cold but actually starting to irritate. It may just be that the timing was wrong for this book, but I really struggled – not only to find it funny, but also to regard it as a coherent work! I love a satirical book when done well, but with this I felt that a sequence of aphorisms, one-liners and metaphors does not make a novel and it quickly became tiresome. I haven’t ruled out giving it another try, and it may be that in a different frame of mind I might enjoy. But for this week I didn’t…

At the end of the day, though, that doesn’t matter because I did love what I read, and would happily keep on reading more from 1954 – here are just a few of the options which got away and which I’d like to keep on my radar:

Yes – I won’t give up on the Jarrell just yet!

But the #1954Club was a wonderful week of reading for me where I reconnected with authors and books I love, and which were a part of making me the person and reader I am. I hope you had a good week too, and please keep leaving details of your posts if I’ve missed them – I will catch up with linking as soon as possible.

As for our next Club week, Simon and I have put our heads together and come up with the year for October – which will be (drum roll….) – the #1929Club which will run from 24th-30th October 2022!!! Simon suggested it and it looks to have the potential to be as good as 1954. So you have had plenty of warning and we look forward to joining you all for our next club in six months’ time! Thanks so much to Simon for creating this event and co-hosting – it’s been a blast!

#1954Club – kicking off with the Alternative Queen of Crime!

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In our recent clubs, I’ve got into the habit of starting the week by reading a book by the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie; I’ve read and loved her books since my early teens and I always love the excuse for a revisit! However, although there’s a 1954 Christie title (“Destination Unknown”), I thought I would ring the changes with my first read for the 1954 Club and spend some time in the company of a perhaps underappreciated author who I recently rediscovered – the marvellous Gladys Mitchell and her extremely individual detective, Mrs. Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley!

As I mentioned in my post earlier this month, Mitchell was highly regarded by writers such as Philip Larkin; she was an incredibly prolific author and her books were very popular; yet as I discovered whilst digging about for a 1954 title, her work is sporadically in print and many titles are hard to obtain. I guess her books are not as widely popular as Christie’s are, and her plots and characterisations *can* be a little outré; however, when she’s good, she’s very good and so I was keen to see what I could find for our club.

Well. There *was* a 1954 book and it’s “Faintley Speaking”. Frustratingly, I owned this book once; I have an old ringbinder full of lists of books I owned back in my 20s and the page of Mitchells is long and includes this title. However, I no longer have it, which was extremely irking – there’s much to be said for NOT culling your books. My heart sank a little when I did some online searching and realised that this was not one of the commonly available Mitchells; but I managed to track down a reasonably priced copy described as a ‘reading copy’, and awaited its arrival with trepidation. It actually turned out to be an old green Penguin much like the original one I owned, and it was intact and I’d describe it as ‘fair’, so I was happy. It may have fragile, browned pages but it’s holding up – at least I was able to read it!

Mitchell was writing Mrs. Bradley novels between 1929 and 1984, which is quite a range, and so “Faintley…” sits somewhere in the middle. Unlike “The Rising of the Moon”, Mrs. Bradley has a much more prominent place in the narrative and here she’s assisted by her secretary, Laura, a young Amazonian woman who can do all of the physical stuff Mrs. Bradley can’t. The book opens with Geoffrey Mandsell, an impoverished author, receiving a phone call in a phone box which was meant for someone else. The caller, who identifies herself as “Faintley speaking”, instructs Mandsell re the collection and delivery of a parcel, then rings off. Mandsell, with nothing else to do except get thrown out of his lodgings, complies and ends up setting off a chain of events which will involve murder, adventures on the high seas (or at least the English Channel!), undercover escapades and some very threatening characters!

Intriguingly, a lot of the action is set in a school, as a holidaying schoolboy, Mark, is involved in the discovery of a body, and the murder victim is a quiet schoolteacher! Laura spends some interesting time posing as a teacher whilst investigating, and it seems that education is not the placid profession you might expect. Mrs. Bradley also ranges far and wide, at one point whisking Mark off to France to see the caves of Lascaux, where you can find some of the earliest known graffiti, and where she also finds clues stretching back to wartime. There are boat chases, disappearing railway porters and networks of criminals – it’s all very satisfying!!

Miss Golightly greeted her charmingly, produced the school time-table, explained Laura’s part in it shortly and comprehensibly, showed her a list of school duties which included keeping a milk and dinner list, officiating in the playground during break, taking her turn at dinner duty, supervision of the cloakrooms, the banning of chewing-gum and strip-cartoon papers (for all), facial adornment (for the girls), lethal weapons (for the boys ), fountain-pens (for both sexes), and likewise personal bottles of ink.

I’m not going to give any more plot details because, as with all good Golden Age crime novels, so much of the joy of reading is from being in the hands of a master storyteller and watching it all unfold. Mitchell is in top form here, with the initial chapters giving no hint of where the plot will go, and what the crime actually is. Her characters are brilliantly realised, with Mark himself being another excellent portrayal of a younger person. The school setting was wonderfully familiar, and it has to be remembered that Mitchell herself taught for a large chunk of her life, and if I recall correctly from my readings of her books, schools do turn up on a regular basis! Mitchell makes some wonderfully barbed comments on unequal pay for men and women, with the scenes set in the school being very believable. Mrs. Bradley is, of course, a joy; she’s portrayed as a women who leers and cackles and yet her ugliness is contrasted with the most beautiful voice! A very singular character, and much as I love Diana Rigg, she was much too attractive an actress to play Mrs. Bradley on TV!

Anyway, that’s by the by perhaps; the bottom line is that I loved “Faintley Speaking” and I really think Mitchell should be the Alternative Queen of Crime! Her books may not be the massive sellers that the Christies are, and they may be quite odd at times, but she’s a wonderfully entertaining author and her best works are absolutely gripping. A cracking start to the #1954Club and a reminder to me to be a little more careful about the books I weed from the Ramblings… ;D

*****

So we’re onward and upward with the #1954Club! Do share what you’re reading and enjoying on my dedicated page for the club and I’ll link to your post – looking forward to hearing what bookish delights you discover! 😀

A dark tale of dastardly doings and daring deeds! #Virago #GladysMitchell #TheRisingofTheMoon

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There was a good reason that Philip Larkin called Gladys Mitchell “the Great Gladys”, and that’s well on display in the book I want to talk about today! if you’re a regular here, you’ll know that I’m part of the LibraryThing Virago Modern Classics group; and this year we’re having themed monthly reads to try to help us get through those unread Virago volumes on our shelves!! I am still playing catch up with reviews, as you might have worked out, as I read “The Rising of the Moon” during March but am only just getting round to sharing my thoughts here. I must admit to having struggled a little when choosing March’s read – the prompt was an author who had only one book on the VMC list, and there were just too many choices! I started, then abandoned, a few titles but eventually settled on Mitchell. I love her Mrs Bradley mysteries, and this may well have been the first I read, but it’s decades since I revisited it – so I figured a re-read would be something of an adventure!

I no longer have my Virago copy of this, as I passed it on to my BFF, J – however, fortunately my old Hogarth Crime edition was still lurking in the stacks!!

First published in 1945, the book is set in the little town of Brentford, on the Thames, and is unusual perhaps amongst her books in that much of the focus is not on Mrs Bradley herself but on the narrator, Simon Innes (aged 13) and his brother Keith (aged 11 and a half). Set some time pre-war, the book evokes a world long gone, a quiet country town where everyone knows everyone else, the circus coming to town is a major event, and children are allowed to roam freely in town and country carrying a scimitar and an old gun!

Simon and Keith are orphans, living with their older brother Jack and wife June, their toddler Tom and the beautiful lodger Christina (with whom everyone seems to be in love). When not attempting to get into the circus free or wrestling with maths homework, the boys spend much of their time visiting their eccentric friend Mrs Cockerton, who runs the local antique shop and treats the boys with a respect they enjoy. However, this idyllic setting is soon shattered when a performer from the circus is murdered, in what is described (but never in detail) as Ripper-like fashion. The local police, led by Inspector Seabrook, initially suspect one of her fellow performers; however, when another murder occurs after the circus have moved on, he’s forced to call in Scotland Yard, who turn up with a Home Office consulting psychologist in tow: one Mrs Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, with whom the boys form a strong bond. Suspicion falls on brother Jack; attempts to investigate and help clear his name cause more issues; Jack and June’s relationship is affected by jealousy; and as the murders continue, the boys and the lovely Christina all seem in danger. Just what *is* the truth behind the Brentford murders?

… I did not dream of crossing the lock-gates and the footbridge on my return, but hurried up the slope of the road bridge and came out where the old chapel used to be, and so to the bustle of the high street, glad (for the first time, I think) to see street lamps as well as the moon, and to hear the noisy buses and grating trams instead of the little sounds of the flowing water…

You will find no more of the plot revealed here, as this is a wonderfully written and evocative book and I highly recommend reading it for yourself; not just for the mystery and plotting, but also for the setting and the marvellously realised characters. “The Rising of the Moon” is not just a crime novel, it’s a stunning and gripping novel in its own right and proof (if it was needed) of how great a writer Gladys Mitchell could be! The book entertains and succeeds on so many levels: for a start, the small-town setting of the era is brilliantly captured, with its locals and pubs, the dances at the swimming baths, the gossip and the scandals, the nearby countryside and a world where dinner is taken at the middle of the day. Then there’s the mystery itself which is clever and twisty, and takes all Mrs Bradley’s knowledge to crack. I have to say that I *did* pick up fairly early whodunnit, and I don’t know that this was entirely because I’d read the book before; if I’m correct, Mitchell offers the readers an early clue which is quite revealing and commented on by the boys who don’t realise its significance.

Ah, the boys. The success of a book like this depends on the author getting the child’s voice right, and as far as I’m concerned, Mitchell is spot-on. Simon is an utterly convincing and believable narrator: a beguiling mix of child-like and knowing, as a 13-year-old would be, and conveying the mixture of the prosaic (going to school, doing chores, looking after little Tom) and the adventurous (trailing a murderer, going out at midnight to investigate, coping with the horrors they discover in the murderer’s house). He’s also approaching the cusp of adulthood, as his feelings for Christina make clear, and all of this combines to make him an unforgettable character.

Larkin called this book Mitchell’s “tour de force” and it’s not hard to agree with him. “The Rising of the Moon” is compelling and spellbinding reading from start to finish; I literally didn’t want to put it down, and leaving it behind when I went off to work every day was torture as I just wanted to sit down and lose myself in the book! Mitchell is a marvellous author, her books often veering to the macabre side of things, and that’s certainly the case here; although there’s nothing really gruesome (except for one event at the end, which isn’t graphic) there’s a darkness running under the story, with greed and madness surfacing as events come to a head. It’s really very dramatic at the end, and utterly gripping.

Most of my reading of Gladys Mitchell was pre-blog – I had a phase of being obsessed by her books in my twenties – and although I’ve revisited a few titles during the life of the Ramblings, this was the first time I’d been back to “The Rising of the Moon” for ages; in fact, I may never have re-read it. However, I’m so glad the Virago themed reads pushed me back to it; Mitchell was an astonishingly good writer, this is a stunningly good book and I’m hoping I’ll be able to find something of hers to read for the #1954Club – time spent in the company of the Great Gladys is definitely time well spent!!

#1951club – Off to a cracking start with Mrs. Bradley!

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The Devil’s Elbow by Gladys Mitchell

And so we start another week of reading and talking about books from a particular year – and this time we’ve chosen 1951! As we’ve mentioned, there’s plenty of reading material to pick from, and I decided to begin with some classic crime in the form of a title from the very prolific Gladys Mitchell. I’ve written about the Great Gladys (as Philip Larkin called her) before, when I reviewed the first novel featuring her detective, Mrs. Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley. A marvellous creation, Mrs. Bradley went on to feature in a staggering 66 titles and “The Devil’s Elbow” is number 24.

Desperately dull modern cover

By the time she wrote this book, Mitchell was well into her stride with the Bradley series, and in some ways dropping into a sequence of books randomly like this leaves you at a bit of a disadvantage; there are regular characters you aren’t quite up to speed with, and you don’t have the whole history of the series at your fingertips. I felt that occasionally here, but it certainly didn’t spoil the enjoyment of reading!

The crime takes place on a coach trip to Scotland, and this is indeed the perfect setting for a murder mystery – a kind of updated version of the country house murder. However, Mitchell very cleverly rings the changes by having much of the action happening to, and narrated by (in extracts from letters) a young man who is the tour guide, George Jeffries. Fortunately for all concerned, when a murder takes place and George falls under suspicion, it transpires that his young lady is currently working for Mrs. Bradley. The latter takes off for Scotland hot-foot to investigate, with her regular Scotland Yard sidekick Detective-Inspector Gavin in tow; fortunately the latter is on leave and the local Scottish detective, Inspector Mactavish, is happy to have as much help as he can.

On the coach, of course, is a wonderful cross-section of society: some married couples, some unmarried lady couples, older people on their own or travelling with relatives (including a very enterprising and resourceful young man who will become a large part of the story), some man-mad young women, the odd spinster or two, and one particular character who is what we used to call ‘not quite right in the head’. This array of humanity gives Mrs. Bradley a chance to analyse merrily as well as giving the reader plenty of food for thought when it comes to working out who killed the victim.

Beautiful vintage cover

Once the murder has taken place and Mrs. Bradley becomes involved there is plenty of action, particularly as the waters become muddied with the complication of a group of coach party members who went off for an impromptu boat trip (why? and is this significant as far as the murder is concerned?) There are plenty of red herrings, lots of energetic running around Scotland and detecting by George (accompanied by Robert, the enterprising young man, and Miss Carter, from one of the ladies’ couples), and meanwhile in the background Mrs. Bradley cackles away merrily, seeming to know just about everything and being able to hit the nail on the head every time with her deductions. I’m not going to say anything else about the plot (let’s face it, you can’t say too much about a murder mystery without risking spoilers), except to say that towards the end of the book I *did* pick up who the guilty party was – although that didn’t spoil the denouement at all!

“The Devil’s Elbow” was a wonderful read; cleverly written, entertaining and enjoyable, it was also surprisingly funny in places. Mitchell gets in some lovely asides, such as a sly reference to “Miss Joyce Grenfell’s portraits of exotic spinsters” and a telling discussion of the likelihood of a writer of crime novels actually committing a murder! If I had any criticism to make it would be the tiny one that the ending was perhaps ever so slightly rushed. Mind you, as I devoured the book in a couple of sittings, absolutely loving it, that might well have been my fault rather than the book’s! The device of the letters works well and helps the suspense build; the introductory scene at the beginning, where the letters are handed over to the detectives to read, has the corpse present but it isn’t identified, so the reader doesn’t know who’s going to be killed for some time.

The actual Devil’s Elbow with a wonderful vintage coach!

As for Mrs. Bradley, she took a little bit of the back seat for chunks of the book, which was understandable in that she could hardly be expected to chase villains round the Scottish countryside, taking all sorts of physical actions I won’t go into! She’s a wonderful detective, and as I got myself reacquainted with her I found myself wondering again who in their right mind chose the very lovely Diana Rigg to play a crocodilian, wizened old woman in the TV adaptation! One thing did occur to me, though – Mrs. Bradley’s voice is meant to be a thing of beauty, a quality that recurs throughout the books. How is it, then, that she’s constantly described as ‘cackling’…?

So, a wonderful start to the #1951club! If you’ve never read any Gladys Mitchell I really can’t recommend her books highly enough – her work spans six decades and she was writing about Mrs. Bradley right up until her death in 1983. Let’s hope all the books this week are as good as “The Devil’s Elbow” – onward and upward!

******

It’s worth mentioning that Bill Bibliomane is a regular reader and reviewer of Mitchell’s work, both under her own name and pseudonyms; so if you have an interest in her work, pop over and have a look at his blog here.

Golden Age High-Jinks from Masters (and Mistresses!) of the Genre

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Ask a Policeman by members of The Detection Club

Many moons ago, back in my teenage years, I discovered Agatha Christie; in those days pre-Young Adult books, she was an ideal author when making the transition to adult books. I gradually collected all of her works over the years – from jumble sales (happy memories), charity shops and second-hand bookshops. It was lovely to get a complete set, but even more exciting was the appearance in the early 1980s of “The Scoop” and “Behind the Screen” – two short stories written by members of the famous Detection Club, including Christie, Sayers and many others. I still have my trusty paperback (and I did have another of their works, “The Floating Admiral”, which I’m sure should be somewhere on the shelves…)

ask a policeman

However, a recent hunt in one of the local charity shops revealed this volume – “Ask A Policemen”, another group effort, by John Rhode, Helen Simpson, Gladys Mitchell, Anthony Berkeley. Dorothy L. Sayers and Milward Kennedy. As a bonus, the book features a rare essay by Agatha Christie where she discusses her fellow writers and an excellent introduction by the doyen of vintage crime (and current chair of the Detection Club) Martin Edwards.

The plot of “Ask A Policeman” is a dramatic one: unpleasant newspaper tycoon Lord Comstock has many enemies, owing to his papers’ constant attacks on religion and the police force. He’s found murdered in his country home and surprisingly enough has just been visited by a government Chief Whip, an Archbishop and the Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard! All have motives and all are therefore suspects, as is Comstock’s slightly dodgy secretary, Mills. Then there is the gardener, the manservant and a mysterious woman seen on the lawn…

A 1932 Dinner of the Detection Club -  from http://margaretperry.org/

A 1932 Dinner of the Detection Club – from http://margaretperry.org/

Because of the suspicions around Scotland Yard, the Home Secretary takes the unusual step of asking four amateurs to investigate: Mrs Adela Bradley, Sir John Saumarez, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Mr Roger Sheringham – of course nobody dares to ask a policeman! All have a wonderful pedigree as detectives, but the storytelling waters become somewhat muddy, as the Detection Club members swap sleuths! Thus Helen Simpson tells her tale through Mrs. Bradley, Gladys Mitchell tackles Sir John Saumarez, Dorothy L. Sayers writes of Roger Sheringham and Anthony Berkeley provides Lord Peter Wimsey’s investigations. Milward Kennedy and John Rhode set the scene and round up the story at the end, while the poor addled reader tries to work out whodunnit!

AAP is a wonderfully enjoyable read; cleverly conceived and written, full of red herrings, with plenty of humour and sly little digs at the various detectives and their foibles. The four central writers have great fun playing with each others’ characters and I felt that they brilliantly caught the voice of the original authors (although I can’t tell about Sir John as I haven’t read any of Helen Simpson’s work). The sleuths all have their usual milieu and sidekicks (barrister son Ferdinand for Mrs. Bradley; Inspector Parker and Bunter for Wimsey) and all their little quirks are present, but perhaps exaggerated a little. The mystery was complex and each detective came up with a different and entirely credible solution! Milward Kennedy revealed the real answer to the puzzle, and admitted that he really didn’t play fair with the reader!

As for Christie’s essay, it’s quite a revealing piece of work. Initially written to be translated into Russian to introduce British crime writers to that country, the fact that it was never likely to be read by any of the other writers allowed Christie to be unguarded in her comments about her peers. It’s nice to know she rates Sayers so highly!

All in all, AAP was an excellent read, and I’m starting to think that Martin Edwards deserves a knighthood for services rendered to Golden Age crime, what with his British Library Crime Classics involvement and this. And I believe there is another volume, “Six Against The Yard”, lurking out there somewhere – I really *must* track down a copy…. 🙂

in which there *will* be casualties…

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Yes, I’m afraid I really *will* have to start pruning after this weekend’s arrivals – and try to decide which of the books on Mount TBR I am realistically likely to read, and which will have to go…

Clearing out bookshelves is not something I enjoy doing, as I always regret it – my Mapp and Lucia books, for example, and “Madame Solario” – both of which I’ve missed recently. But there are only so many shelves and only so much time left to read – the house will only hold so much before it bursts 😦

These are this week’s culprits:

and I have perfectly good reasons for buying them all!!

The Antonia White diaries is a Virago – which is reason enough, particularly as her “Frost in May” has the honour of being the first VMC! ‘Nuff said.

“Recovery” by Stephen Benatar sounded intriguing – Benatar himself sounds intriguing! Plus I have his “Wish Her Safe At Home” on Mount TBR and this can keep it company. And it’s signed by the author too!

“Twelve Horses….” is by Gladys Mitchell and it’s a vintage green crime Penguin, so once again that’s a no-brainer – there’s no way it was going to stay on the Oxfam shelf.

Zamyatin’s “We” – well, of course, I already have two other editions of this book. But I owned this particular edition with its lovely cover once and loaned it to Eldest Child for a university module. I don’t recall seeing it since…. so of course felt the need to replace it.

And lastly Heinrich Boll – an author I’ve never read, although since he’s a Nobel winner I should have. This is his first novel and it’s short too – so I was intrigued enough to try it.

Now for some painful violence on the shelves…..

Recent Reads: Speedy Death by Gladys Mitchell

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You can’t go wrong with classic crime, can you? Well, I don’t think so, anyway! I was kind of up in the air after my read of “The Tiger in the Smoke”, not quite knowing what to read next. So I did my usual trick which is plump for a vintage murder mystery – and you don’t get much more vintage than this!

Gladys Mitchell and her wonderful detective Mrs. Bradley have been favourites of mine for years – I owned many of her books in the past, but they vanished in the purge mentioned in my last post which was a mistake, as I’ve now had to re-buy new copies. Truly, getting rid of books is a bad idea. Anyway, “Speedy Death” is Mitchell’s first Mrs. Bradley book, and I have a lovely 1980s Hogarth Press purple edition!

speedy

The book was published in 1929 and the action is firmly set in that decade by the opening, with two young men meeting a woman from a train. She is Dorothy, the men are Garde Bing and Bertie Philipson, both of whom are in love with her – but it is Garde to whom she engaged. The three drive off to the Bings’ country house where they’re staying for the weekend along with a very motley collection of fellow guests: including the famous explorer Everard Mountjoy, who is engaged to the daughter of the house, Eleanor Bing; Eleanor and Garde’s father, Alistair; the scientist Carstairs, who fancies himself as a detective; and of course the wonderful Mrs. Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, noted psychoanalyst.

It doesn’t take long for a guest to be found dead in the bath. Although the host is reluctant to accept this as anything but an accident, another murder attempt follows and the wonderfully-named Inspector Boring comes to investigate. Needless to say, he has no idea, and it’s left to Mrs. Bradley to find out the truth, protect a variety of young women from peril and get to the bottom of everything.

Reading Gladys Mitchell is such fun! Her writing is sharp and funny, the setting beautifully conjured up and the characters well fleshed-out. There’s plenty of drama and, as I recall from earlier readings, the plot is quite dark in places, almost melodramatic. The resolution is satisfying and the final action tense, and we are lucky enough to be introduced to Mrs. Bradley’s son! However, there is one plot device, quite an important one, which is never really explained – if you’ve read the book, you’ll probably know what I mean!

This is a remarkably assured debut for Mrs. Bradley and actually, quite an audacious one. As if she was trying to make her mark on detective fiction, Mitchell presents the reader with a very unconventional detective, and puts her through some rather unusual experiences! But then, Mrs. Bradley is an appealingly unusual character: described as bird-like (in a birds of prey kind of way!) and ugly, she’s certainly not a fluffy little Miss Marple or a lofty Lord Peter. All Golden Age detectives *do* have their own quirk, however, and Mrs. Bradley is a very astute woman – able to see through people’s behaviour, analyse their motives and predict the outcome of events. She’s quite manipulative too, and has a very strong sense of justice, which leads her to some unusual actions…

g_mitchell

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because the twists and turns and the denouement are excellent. Suffice to say, it’s as startling as some of the most innovative Christies and that’s high praise indeed. I’d forgotten quite how much I loved Gladys Mitchell’s books and I can see I’ll be spending more time in the company of Mrs. Bradley in the future!

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