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Death of a Busybody

Death of a Busybody (Paperback)

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Synopsis

The eponymous nosy parker in Death of a Busybody is Miss Ethel Tither. She has made herself deeply unpopular in the quintessentially English village of Hilary Magna, since she goes out of her way to snoop on people, and interfere with their lives. On being introduced to her, the seasoned reader of detective stories will spot a murder victim in the making. Sure enough, by the end of chapter one, this unpleasant lady has met an extremely unpleasant fate. She is found floating in a cesspool, having been bludgeoned prior to drowning in the drainage water.This is, in every way, a murky business; realising that they are out of their depth, the local police quickly call in the Yard. Inspector Thomas Littlejohn, George Bellairs' series detective, arrives on the train, and in casting around for suspects, he finds that he is spoiled for choice. The amiable vicar supplies him with a map showing the scene of the crime; maps were a popular feature of traditional whodunnits for many years, and Bellairs occasionally included them in his books, as he does here.



Fiction & PoetryCrime & ThrillersClassic crime Publisher: The British Library Publishing Division Publication Date: 10/10/2016 ISBN-13: 9780712356442  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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George Bellairs was a pseudonym masking the identity of Harold Blundell (1902-1982), one of the few bankers to write crime fiction, rather than feature in it as a murder victim or rascally suspect. Blundell started work at the age of fifteen with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank, which merged with Martin's Bank in 1928; he remained with Martin's until his retirement in 1962. In 1941, he published his first novel, Littlejohn on Leave, a book which is now a great rarity.

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Customer Reviews

The series of British Library Crime Classics continues to grow; I am thinking of starting a new shelf on my bookcase! This addition to the group introduces a new detective, Inspector Littlejohn, and I think he is a worthy addition, especially if you like your detectives to take second place to the mystery as opposed to dictating it. For those who like real characters, fear not; there are characters aplenty here. My favourite, apart from the bewildered Vicar of course, is Gormley, the fed up gardener and clearer of cess pits. He becomes most militant with fearful consequences as a result of sheer grumpiness. Miss Tither's most unsettling end comes at the start of a series of events which unspool across the village as her activities become known to Littlejohn. Red herrings, dark deeds and clues emerge which both divert and entertain the Reader, as truly no character (apart from Littlejohn!) seems above suspicion. I really liked the Reverend Claplady, who sneaks off with an apple tart from his own pantry and "After taking a large bite, he placed the rest carefully on his blotting pad for further attention later..." As always, it is really difficult to effectively talk about a murder mystery without the dreaded spoilers. I can assert though that there are many memorable characters in this book and the plot takes some violent turns. Do watch out for the ambitious Constable Harriwinckle, whose prodigious appetite does not block his understanding or speed when 'evidenks' (evidence) emerges at the last. Inspector Littlejohn is noted for his "understanding of country ways". A chat with a bookseller recently suggest that there are more George Bellairs/ Inspector Littlejohn books to come in this series, and I look forward to them.

- 26/11/2016
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