Wright’s (Coming Through—The Long Journey, 2011, etc.) compendium of short stories takes place in rural 1920s England.
In the style of Agatha Christie, Wright fashions a story around a mysterious murder in an English country village. There are the usual suspects: the lord and lady of the manor, a retired army colonel, his wife, the village doctor and the inspector of police. Various other characters drop by—the somewhat befuddled aunt of the colonel’s wife and her misbehaving dog, among others. Wright follows in the footsteps of the old masters, and the prose lives up to its stellar antecedents. The hired help speak in their cockney dialect, while the upper classes converse with the delicate articulation one would expect of someone in their echelon. The colonel loves his ever-present rosewood pipe; he often sits before a fire and enjoys a puff. The characters have depth and presence, but they are types already well represented in the palate of any dedicated mystery fan, so the cast might be too familiar. However recognizable, the characters won’t be denied their charisma. The book consists of two short interludes set a few years apart in a lively, vibrant village. The colorful images of life in post–Great War England elicit the charm of a bygone era. Once again, a formulaic element comes into play, but when done this well, it adds to, rather than subtracts from, the storyline.
For anyone in the mood to solve a murder mystery while taking a pleasurable romp through merry olde England, it would be a crime to miss this one.