Two brothers, John and William Rother, live together at Chalklands Farm in the beautiful Sussex Downs. Their peaceful rural life is shattered when John Rother disappears and his abandoned car is found. Has he been kidnapped? Or is his disappearance more sinister - connected, perhaps, to his growing rather too friendly with his brother's wife?
Superintendent Meredith is called to investigate - and begins to suspect the worst when human bones are discovered on Chalklands farmland. His patient, careful detective method begins slowly to untangle the clues as suspicion shifts from one character to the next.
©2015 Introduction © Martin Edwards (P)2015 Soundings
This is an early classic mystery, from the days when a detective story was above all an intellectual puzzle. The detective is gentle and well-drawn, without the convoluted personal life that is de regular in modern whodunnits. The author plays fair with the reader, and doesn't fall back on the device of introducing totally implausible backstory to explain the denouement. He takes you with him as the though processes unfold.
This is classic old-fashioned detective fiction, in which the reader is invited to follow the thought processes of the police. There are quite a number of twists and turns in the plot, some of which I 'got' and some not; but that's what makes this kind of book fun.
Gordon Griffin is a very accomplished narrator. He has got just the right inflections for English of this period, and suggests the different characters by a subtle and effective change of voice. A joy to listen to.
I don't expect to be 'moved' by a detective story, but the denouement of this was clever.
I'm afraid I have not followed instructions and answered the questions set, but they didn't frame the review I wanted to give!
"I couldn't connect with Superintendent Meredith"
While as easy listen and in no way terrible, I missed having a connection Superintendent Meredith, the primary detective investigating the murders. He is not a well developed character. I wanted to know more about his family (his interesting, eccentric son pops up once or twice), about his likes and dislikes (other than his need to eat meals on schedule), and his background. For me, he suffered from not having a regular partner/sidekick. He also spent too much time going over the various murder theories in his head and not enough time investigating them. His superior had to keep bringing him back on track and pushing him towards a resolution. That said, the plot was interesting, although I did figure out the who and the why, though not all the twists in the how, long before the end of the story.
"Very Enjoyable for Murder and Whatnot."
This was very enjoyable. I should point out that the John Bude mysteries are quite dated, and are not especially fast-paced or sophisticated, but I think that is their charm. And they are very well written. I enjoyed parsing the chalk and lime setting, and figuring out what "the hillman" was. (I thought it was some type of person, like the gamekeeper or the crofter.) I congratulated myself for guessing the scenario, but there was still another detail that quite surprised me. If you enjoy vintage things, and cozy mysteries, you will like this one. I should point out that Gordon Griffin's narration here is far superior to the other narrator. Griffin has great timing, and is very good at interpreting the various local types, especially a character or two with "wheezes" and vocal peculiarities. A mystery that won't disturb your sleep.
This was actually tiresome to listen to. Even if the detective had been brilliant and the plot fascinating, the writing has very little descriptive element. You feel as though conversations and events are just methodically strung together. Also, this is the first time I've ever felt sorry for a detective because of how daft he is. You'll figure out the solution at least an hour before the story ends and wonder what the detective is doing. For example, when a fake confession is discovered and proven to be a fraud, he muses about who would have written the letter and why. Um, the real murderer wrote it, obviously, and this should be a huge clue as to who did it and why. There are dozens of moments like this. And dozens of convenient coincidences. At the end of the story, the detective, who has just discovered the murderer of an innocent man, talks about how part of him might be glad that this murderer can't be brought to justice because greed and other evil motives are just part of the human condition. What? Trust me. Don't waste several hours on this.
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