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.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
What a fantastic book to read in the run up to Christmas! Not in that it is particularly festive, but just because it is a warm, cozy read just like enjoying a mug of hot chocolate with your favourite dressing gown and slippers on a cold winter’s night. I know this will sound very British, but that is intentional.
Murder in Little Shendon is a murder mystery that meanders around the crime, piecing together the clues that ultimately lead us to the ne’er-do-well guilty of the crime. A.H. Richardson has crafted a comfortable read with a classic whodunit style. Here in England, it will put many readers in mind of Midsomer Murders or the old David Suchet Hercule Poirot TV adaptations. The village of Little Shendon is quintessentially English, a stereotypically chocolate-box type of place where everyone knows everyone, and very few secrets stay secret for long.
When the proprietor of a shop selling trinkets and antiquities is found dead, bludgeoned to death by a heavy candlestick, the inevitable investigation ensues. The only predictable element of this whodunit is the fact that everybody in this unassuming little village has motive. It turns out the deceased is a less than wholesome character and has, in myriad ways, managed to cross everyone at some point in time. And that includes the butler!
The story weaves its way around the village, talking to potential suspects and gathering evidence, piecing clues together without ever hinting at the identity of the culprit. In true Poirot fashion, Richardson collects all of the core characters together at the end, setting up the investigators for the most dramatic of reveals as to the identity of the killer. Murder in Little Shendon keeps the reader guessing all the way through to the end of the book and deals with dark deeds with plenty of fun and stereotypical Englishness to boot. One of the more fun reads I have had the pleasure of enjoying this year.