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The Murder of My Aunt: Richard Hull (1934)

Highly-rated in some quarters, this book consists largely of a first-person
narrative by Edward Powell detailing his various attempts to murder his Aunt Mildred. Edward is an utterly charmless and repellent individual; bone-idle and contemptuous of virtually everyone with whom he comes in contact, he is completely financially dependent on Mildred. Read the rest of this entry »

Anthony Berkeley – Death in the House (1939)

When Lord Wellacombe, Secretary of State for India, collapses in the House
of Commons while he is introducing a Bill giving the Government draconian
powers to suppress Indian independence agitators, everyone believes it is a
stroke until tests reveal that he has been poisoned. Read the rest of this entry »

Joanna Cannan – And Be A Villain (1958)

Laura Langley, newly widowed and left impoverished, visits her daughter, Eve Hallow, in the midlands town of Beetham. Laura is expecting to come and live with Eve, but Eve’s husband Richard, Dr Hallow, plans to put her into an old-people’s home. Even Laura’s other daughter Primrose is prepared to go along with this plan. Before they can tell her Richard is found murdered in his surgery. Read the rest of this entry »

Joanna Cannan – Body in the Beck (1952)

Francis Worthington, Oxford history don and famous mountaineer, is staying in the Lake District. On his way to attempt a difficult climb with his
protege David Brown, Francis discovers the body of a man in a pool;
unperturbed he carries on with the climb, but on returning to his hotel does
notify the police. Detective Inspector Price of Scotland Yard is summoned to take over the case – much to his chagrin. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh: Grave Mistake – 1978

Verity Preston, a playwright, lives in the village of Upper Quintern, a
fairly typical specimen of the GA village (although this book was written in
1978). Among her neighbours are Sybil Foster a self-dramatising and rich
divorcee and her daughter Prunella, the millionaire newcomer Nikolas Markos and his son Gideon, and the new gardener – called (a very Marsh sort of joke) Gardener who’s services are much in demand. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Last Ditch (1977)

Rickie Alleyn, son of Alleyn and Troy, has come to ‘the island’ (unnamed but
must be a Channel Island) to write a novel. He has an introduction from his
parents to the local gentry in the form of the mildly eccentric Pharamond
family, and falls in love with the elegant and exotic Julia, much to her
amusement. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Black as He’s Painted (1974)

Samuel Whipplestone, recently retired from the Foreign Office, buys a
house in Capricorn Walk, a quaint London backwater. The house comes with a sitting tenant in the basement flat and a couple of servants , Mr and Mrs
Chubb, who live on the top floor.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Light Thickens (1982)

Peregrine Jay, whom we met before in Death at the Dolphin (he is now 20
years older, married to Emily with three children), is putting on a
production of Macbeth at the Dolphin Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

Marsh – Tied up in Tinsel (1972)

Troy has been commissioned to paint the picture of Hilary Bill-Tasman at his
ancestral home Halberds. Hilary is a very rich snob, who’s fortune derives
from his father’s success in the antiques trade, which he built up in
partnership with a rag and bone man called Bert Smith, and a couple of pools wins (Hilary must have been extraordinarily lucky); Hilary was actually
raised by an Uncle and Aunt – Colonel and Mrs Forrester.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Dead Water (1964)

Wally Trehern, a child with learning difficulties as we would say today,
sees a ‘Green Lady’ who instructs him to wash his warty hands in a pool in
his native village of Portcarrow. The warts ‘miraculously’ disappear. When
the story is picked up by a journalist Portcarrow is transformed into a
major tourist attraction, with hoards of those seeking ‘cures’ descending
upon the village, thereby transforming the fortunes of the village pub which
becomes an hotel, the local nursing home, even the Vicar, but above all a
Miss Cost, who’s asthma has also been ‘cured’ by the pool, who opens a shop
dedicated to the sale of ‘Green Lady’ related paraphernalia and organises a
festival on the anniversary of Wally’s ‘cure’. Read the rest of this entry »

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July 2009