A Testament to Murder by Vivian Conroy

A Testament to Murder - Vivian Conroy

Malcolm Bryce-Rutherford ,a very unpleasant and very sick man,has invited several guests,both family and,well not exactly, friends to his beautiful house on the French Riviera. He announces to his puzzled audience that he will draw up a different will every day. If he dies the person who is mentioned in that ” daily” will inherit the whole estate. Of course there are risks,not in the first place for Mr. Malcolm himself but also for the beneficiary. If Malcolm dies he or she could become the number one suspect. Nobody has any doubt that a murder will be committed but the victim comes as a bit of a surprise,followed by another murder and some strange mishaps. Luckily the neighbour,a retired Scotland Yard man,is there to solve these crimes.

The story and setting(a weekend party in an isolated manor house)has strong links to Golden Age (and Agatha Christie ) mysteries. And it works up to a certain point but it is a tad long winded and the “denouement “(in real Poirot style,all the suspects in the drawing room)and the gathering of evidence leading to this great revelation is missing something. Very hard to say what exactly but there it is…

 

Ruin Beach by Kate Rhodes

Ruin Beach - Kate Rhodes

On Tresco,one of the many islands of Scilly, a young professional diver is found murdered in a famous (or infamous) cave. The year before another young woman was found drowned in the same place. Coincidence? D.I. Ben Kitto,a local man, back after a spell in the big Metropolis, has to find the culprit of this horrendous murder. Very soon the place is awash with rumours about a mythical Roman shipwreck. And as this is a close and small community,there is no lack of suspects…

It is a good murder mystery, a good storyline(although a bit long winded ),a fabulous setting and most of the characters are believable and well elaborated except D.I. Kitto ,it feels as if this character is not quite finished yet. Perhaps a firmer editing?

And then there is the dog,admittedly Kitto is not the willing and voluntary owner of Shadow but still…I don’t think he calls the dog even once by his name,the dogs gets wounded but after some very basic treatment Shadow just limps on…Weird…

 

Alibi for a Corpse by Elizabeth Lemarchand

Alibi for a Corpse - Elizabeth Lemarchand

The rural community of Twiggadon (2 cottages,a”manor”house,a farm and a car dump) is startled by the discovery of a skeleton in the boot of a car. Scotland Yard is called in and D.I. Pollard and Sergeant Toye are sent to Northamptonshire to assist the local constabulary. The main problem is the identification of the victim (this was written in the sixties so no DNA,no digital database…) and the determination of the cause of death. After some solid detection work,with the help of the local constables, landlords and other inhabitants of the surrounding villages, one after the other suspect is cleared. Finally there is only one left but most of the evidence is circumstantial so they have to find a creative solution to capture their culprit…

Although written in the sixties, it has a Golden Age aura. Probably village life, small police stations and any absence of coarse language or behaviour (barring murder) ensures this atmosphere but that is fine by me!

 

Murder on a Winter Afternoon by Betty Rowlands

Murder on a Winter Afternoon - Betty Rowlands

Melissa Craig,a successful crime novelist, is asked to finish the late Leonora Jewell her final book. Leonora died rather unexpectedly after a nasty fall in her cottage. As Melissa is trying to get as much information as she can in order to accomplish her task successfully, she encounters some discrepancies in different stories ,some things that do not match and all of a sudden poor Leonora’s death is perhaps not so straightforward after all…

This is a blend between a cozy/cosy read and a typical English village murder. But it works,it doesn’t sound too simplistic, the characters are not overly “vaudeville”and people do more than drink tea and have a chat with the vicar.

And then,an English(Cotswolds I think) village in the winter is always a bit of a winner.