Monday, 12 December 2011

An Elementary Country House Murder. . .

It may be due to all the Terence Rattigan that I've been exposed to recently, but this weekend I just wanted to continue spending more time with the Brits.  So I picked up Gladys Mitchell's Watson's Choice, a Mrs. Bradley mystery originally published in 1955 and recently brought back into print by Vintage U.K.  It's in the cozy mode of British crime writing centered around a group of eccentric but coolly detached suspects gathered in a large country house. Sir Bohun Chantrey is a huge Sherlock Holmes enthusiast and so throws a costume party with guests dressed as characters from the cases, complete with party games that call upon their knowledge of Conan Doyle's work. Then all of a sudden the "Hound of the Baskervilles" shows up, and even though the murder - of Linda Campbell, the vampish governess recently engaged to Chantrey - takes place several weeks after the party, this large dog proves to be one of the clues to catching the culprit. 

This is the second of Mitchell's extensive list of Mrs. Bradley mysteries that I've read and while I find her plots rather thin, she makes up for it with a sly humour occasioned by Bradley's forthright psychological insights and the banter between herself and Laura her secretary.  I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was acquainted with a greater number of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but I didn't find it too much of a distraction. And when you get to the end, don't forget to reflect on the book's title.

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