When they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, for me and Murder in Little Shendon, the saying definitely applies. This is not a book, if I’m honest, I would have picked up if I saw it on the library shelf and even a 99p Amazon deal may not have tempted me. It’s dark, slightly bloody and doesn’t do what is inside the pages – in my humble opinion – justice.
Thankfully, a lovely publicist asked me to review a copy and after a quick look on Goodreads to see what the reviews were like (I have to do this, having being burnt before), I said “yes, please”.
Murder in Little Shendon isn’t my usual fare in that it’s a cosy mystery, set in the days when people had to ask the operator to connect them when they used the phone and in a time when murder still shocked them. I was determined this year to add more cosies to my reading life, though, and this fit the bill perfectly.
It starts with the murder of an antique shop owner with wartime links to the secret service. These links, lead the local police under the steady hand of Inspector Burgess to call in some extra help in the form of Sir Victor Hazlitt, also former secret service and whose aunt / cousin lives in the area, and Beresford Brandon, an actor with a knack for finding out the truth. It’s the latter two around which the story really revolves, or at least did for me.
The good news there is that I liked them. They were so proper and polite but still managed to get to the truth of the matter. And how many truths. The victim, it turns out, wasn’t well liked and everyone has a story to tell – meaning lots of suspects and lots of reading heading.
It made me smile as I read it, as did the manners on display by everyone, which I think Richardson was just enough tounge-in-cheek about to make it amusing but not silly. That’s the fine line in this type of book that is hard for me and why I don’t read many. Sometimes, things just seem silly. Thankfully, not here. Instead, I was transported back to a time that probably didn’t exist but it’s nice to imagine.
I could also imagine this as a TV show, with the quaint village and cast of quirky characters. It’s all laid out so well and is such a fun, entertaining, read I bet it would be great to watch to.
As for complaints, I have none other than I would have maybe liked it to be a bit longer – rare for me to say, I know, so that some of the scenes could have been a bit more fleshed out and the enjoyment could have lasted.
About the book…
Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens – not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper.
Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man’s housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village.
A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead – it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.
Publication date: 28th August, 2015
Number of pages: 256
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Note: I received this book in turn for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings, and opinions are my own.