Published by Vintage
Publication date – 2 November 2017
Source – review copy
Mrs Bradley, sharp-eyed detective and celebrated psychiatrist, has decided to spend Christmas with her nephew at his beautiful house in the Cotswolds.
It isn’t long before a mystery unfolds. There are strange events occurring in the nearby wood and local villagers are receiving anonymous threatening letters. Then the snow begins to fall – and a body is discovered.
Mrs Bradley is on the case, but she’ll have to hatch an ingenious plan to reveal the truth and find the culprit…
Mrs Bradley has been invited to spend Christmas with her nephew Jonathan, though she has also been invited to Sweden. Having drawn the short straw she finds herself in the Cotswolds with Jonathan and his new wife Deborah. Of course things don’t go smoothly and Mrs Bradley soons finds herself mixed up in anonymous letters. Then a dead body is found.
This was the first Mrs Bradley book I have read so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It is a rather gentle, slow story, one that would probably be classed as a cosy crime.
Although the story opens at Christmas this is not a Christmas book. The body isn’t discovered until after Christmas and the main part of the story is told in the following months.
There are a few characters to follow and it can become easy to get a little lost. Whilst Mrs Bradley is of course, the focus of the tale, both Jonathan and to a lesser extent Deborah, feature heavily. There are a number of other characters, some likeable, some not so much.
The setting of the novel, in a small community, gives it a closed room feel, with the limited number of suspects and the secrets inherent in a small local village, allow for everyone to look suspicious.
I’m not sure I warmed to Mrs Bradley that much, she kept her cards close to her chest and I don’t think I really got a feel for her character. However I would read more stories featuring her in the future, just to see if I can get a more rounded view of Mrs Bradley.
Whilst I didn’t love this book it was a pleasant enough way to spend a few hours and having been curious about Mrs Bradley it has help sait that curiousity somewhat.
About the author
Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell – or ‘The Great Gladys’ as Philip Larkin called her – was born in 1901, in Cowley in Oxfordshire. She graduated in history from University College London and in 1921 began her long career as a teacher. Her hobbies included architecture and writing poetry. She studied the works of Sigmund Freud and her interest in witchcraft was encouraged by her friend, the detective novelist Helen Simpson. Her first novel, Speedy Death, was published in 1929 and introduced readers to Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, the detective heroine of a further sixty six crime novels. She wrote at least one novel a year throughout her career and was an early member of the Detection Club, alongside Agatha Christie, G.K Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers.In 1961 she retired from teaching and, from her home in Dorset, continued to write, receiving the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger in 1976. Gladys Mitchell died in 1983.