A Proper Halloween

A Reader's Respite originally had planned a whole slew of spooky Halloween reviews throughout the month of October.  Due to, ahem, some technical difficulties (oddly enough, not with Blogger this time but within our own short-circuiting brain) it simply did not happen this year.  The best laid plans.....

But in the never-say-die spirit (double entendre there....look at us, back in the game!) we do want to share our favorite Halloween read this year.

When we first read about this almost-forgotten mystery first published in 1945 over at Kittling: Books, we ordered it immediately.  Really, what's more fun than a proper British mystery, ala Agatha Christie?

And for those of you who love a little mystery with their mystery, you'll be intrigued to know that author Maureen Sarsfield is a bit of a mystery herself.  After publishing two successful mystery novels, she simply vanished.  No one knows what became of her, whether it was a pen name, or even if she simply passed away.  Intriguing, no?

Murder at Shots Hall is a hoot of a romp through the English countryside where a local heart-breaker named Flik is accused of a series of murders occurring around town.

Despite Flik's annoying habit of making every man she meets fall madly in love with her (and yes, it did indeed become annoying after a while), the mystery is a sound one and like most British mysteries, it's the eccentric cast of secondary characters that make this short novel  (191 pages) worth reading.  From the Detective Sergeant Arnoldson who is out to convict Flik of anything he can hang his hat on, to Camilla Pain-Wentworth who, it is said, would "flirt with a broomstick if it wore trousers," there is a fun array of possible suspects to choose from when local folks start turning up dead.

Our favorite?  Sergeant Congreve, local law enforcement with a knack for seeing through the bullshit and making us laugh out loud.  His initial written report after the first murder:

"Report from Sgt. Congreve.  All except the following, in and around Shotshall, had alibis for the night of December 1st between the hours of 19:45 and 21:00:  Capt. Belairs, who said he was in his house reading.  Miss Chattock, of Shots Hall, who said she was in her house doing nothing.  Mrs. Ashely who said what she was doing but it is not proven.  Mrs. Vale who said she was asleep in front of her fire which had gone out.  Harry Fewsey the butcher who was cutting up meat in his shop and said anyone ought to have been able to hear him doing it only no one did.  Winnie Marsh who said she had one round the corner, which one she would not say, to meet a boyfriend she won't say either as it is not her regular one Bill Ellison, and she said not to tell about it as Bill Ellison would be mad."

What's not to love?  Even if you figure out whodunnit, the fun is in the getting there.

Happy Halloween!

1 comment:

Fire away!