Noel Wells, curate in the sleepy village of Saltmarsh, likes to spend his time dancing in the study with the vicar's niece, until one day the vicar's unpleasant wife discovers her unmarried housemaid is pregnant and trouble begins.
It is left to Noel to call for the help of sometimes detective and full-time Freudian Mrs Bradley, who sets out on an unnervingly unorthodox investigation into the mysterious pregnancy, and investigation that also takes in smuggling, the village lunatic, a missing corpse, a public pillory, an exhumation and, of course, a murderer.
Mrs Bradley is easily one of the most memorable personalities in crime fiction, and in this classic whodunnit she proves that some English villages can be murderously peaceful.
©1932 Gladys Mitchell (P)2010 Soundings
An easy going tale, read very nicely. With twists and turns and interesting characters.
Not a blood and thunder story, but a good, I'd say, old fashioned murder mystery.
The plot twisted and turned and was interesting enough to want to know the outcome. The characters and events were not always convincing but they were diverting.
The narrator did a good job but the list of all the bad, stupid and annoying things about this book could make a book in itself. To summarize here are a few major points.
1. The plot is tedious and misleading in the worst kind of way. Here's one of many examples: If you keep describing someone as "OLD X " I guess readers will think X is really elderly (there is no son or anyone that makes that adjective required).
2. The so called psychology is the worst kind of cheap claptrap, in the best tradition of arrogant Freudians and the layman myth that psychologists can take one look at you and know all the inner workings of your soul.
3. There are many ridiculous red herrings. For example, the "detectives" speculate that a girl, which is now missing, suspected that her lover was walking on the roof of her house. There is no claim that this was some sort of reoccurring activity. Yet they try to establish the identity of the lover by seeing whose steps on the roof of the house sound similar to the person they know was walking there. Of course girls are always familiar with the subtle differences in the sound made by specific people as they walk on the roof of their house for the first time! REALLY?
4. The worst and most annoying part is the condescending attitude of Mrs. Bradley. She is a horrible know-it-all, who belittles everyone. For example, she calls the young man who is the curate of the parish "child" every 3 second. She should have been the one to be strangled!
5. All interesting plot elements are ripped off from other mystery stories (particularly Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie). You may call it farce, I call it lack of originality. Take a couple of good mystery stories, mangle them up, add some preposterous activities and inane statements (like Bradley stating there's nothing wrong with incest) and you get this book.
The blurb about the author on Amazon says "her work was largely neglected for the two decades after her death." I strongly recommend the continuation of this practice!
I listen to audio books, and occasionally write the odd review. I don't eat babies or like Marmite.
... the narration makes this story a really laboured piece of work... almost a chore to listen to.
I don't mean to criticise the narrator himself, but compared with other Gladys Mitchell novels, the "first person" narration of the story makes the overall job more difficult. The narrator is pretending to be one person who is at times pretending to voice a host of others, and it makes for a very tiring listen, in my opinion.
This is a pity, since it is a good yarn.... but the slow start combined with the features of the narration really don't help.
Obviously as a TV production, for example, it would be screenplayed a totally different way, and the same basic story could really come alive.
I believe that this particular novel is, critically, regarded as one of her most significant... perhaps I should try and read it rather than listen to it....
"Wonderfully convoluted stories."
For thinking readers.
Others by this author.
A film for people who enjoy a mystery. Not for males between the ages of 13 and 35.
These mysteries which were written in the early 20th Century are definitely dated, but they are quite enjoyable, since the reader is solving the crime along with the protagonist.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.