Pages: 240 pages
Published: February 10, 2018 (January 1st 1946)
Publisher: The British Library
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Fiction & Literature
The Second World War is drawing to a close. Nicholas Vaughan, released from the army after an accident, takes refuge in Devon – renting a thatched cottage in the beautiful countryside at Mallory Fitzjohn. Vaughan sets to work farming the land, rearing geese and renovating the cottage. Hard work and rural peace seem to make this a happy bachelor life.
On a nearby farm lives the bored, flirtatious June St Cyres, an exile from London while her husband is a Japanese POW. June’s presence attracts fashionable visitors of dubious character, and threatens to spoil Vaughan’s prized seclusion.
When Little Thatch is destroyed in a blaze, all Vaughan’s work goes up in smoke – and Inspector Macdonald is drafted in to uncover a motive for murder.
Readers are taken on an adventure in the Devonshire countryside. The isolated community of Mallory Fitzjohn is rocked by the sudden death of Nicholas Vaughan, the new occupant of Little Thatch. Everyone is happy to believe that Vaughan’s death was a simple accident…or was it? Inspector Macdonald of Scotland Yard tries to discover whether Vaughan’s death was a simple accident or there is a murderer on the loose.
I never read anything by E.C.R. Lorac but I have always been intrigued with the British Library Crime Classic Series, a series that re-introduced classic British mysteries back into print. This one was a highly enjoyable police procedural novel. I was enthralled by the plotting of the story. It starts with a little background information, setting the stage of the characters of the story. And then before you know it, the story goes right into the murder. A reader might be taken aback that the death was just came out of nowhere, but I thought it was a unique way of telling a mystery. Instead of going into the gruesome details, the author just went straight to laying out the crime for the reader. I found that to be an interesting set up for a mystery novel.
The depiction of the beautiful scenery was so well done. The beautiful book cover just gives you an idea of what to expect of the story’s setting. It really felt like I was really there. Lorac paid so much attention to the detail of not only the countryside background but to the character development. She wanted the readers to get a feel for what was going on and like most mystery writers, a chance to figure out who the culprit is. The story does tend to drag on a little bit but I believe that Lorac was not only depicting a mystery but also societal relations after the Second World War. The tension between city dwellers and countrymen is a debate that occurs throughout the novel. Some may feel that this debate is old-fashioned but the ideas that are championed and discussed throughout the novel are still relevant today.
Inspector Macdonald is one interesting detective. Don’t get me wrong, he is no Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple but he still a great detective that manages to not make assumptions about anyone or anything until he gets all the facts together. Lorac’s writing does remind me of Christie’s books but the difference is that Lorac focuses more on descriptive imagery while Christie focuses more on getting straight to the point. Either of these methods are not a bad thing. Just brings a different structure to the genre.
If you are a lover of mysteries, British mysteries and Agatha Christie like I am, you should definitely pick up this book. If you are interested in reading more books from this series, you can find the book catalog here.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars