THE RISING OF THE MOON by Gladys Mitchell
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Gladys Mitchell (1901-1983) was perhaps the most violently erratic of all the English ""Golden Age"" veterans--capable, at least in her prime, of producing both irresistible and near-unreadable mystery/whimsy concoctions. And until now, unfortunately, only one of the Mitchell winners--Watson's Choice (UK, 1955; US, 1976)--has received American publication, while the Mitchell clinkers have had ample US exposure in recent seasons. Very welcome, then, is this first US appearance for one of the other Mitchell standouts (UK, 1945), about a series of stabbing-murders (young women are the victims) in a small Thameside town. The cop in charge of the case is Detective Inspector Seabrook--who's meanwhile wooing a lovely girl named Christina, a boarder at the home of Jack Innes and his jealous wife June. But Jack's younger brothers, orphaned teenagers Simon and Keith, tackle the mystery as energetic amateur shamuses. (Like Jack, the younger boys are half-in-love with boarder Christina.) And helping Inspector Seabrook is Mitchell's usual sleuth, Mrs. Beatrice Bradley, a Home Office psychiatrist who makes full use of the teenagers' knowledge of the town. . . and their friendship with flaky antique dealer Mrs. Cockerton. The murders are eventually solved, of course--no thanks to the Inspector. But the standout merits here are the small-town atmosphere, the boys' character-appeal (their unconscious charm, their brio), and an all-enveloping Dickensian aura--with little of the witchcraft/folklore nonsense that so often mars Mitchell's lesser work. (The other prime candidate for US publication: Spotted Hemlock, UK 1958.)

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's