Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne – a British Library Crime Classic

So, another British Library Crime Classic, which has not yet been released according to at least one well known website, but which has been available in a chain of real bookshops for weeks. It pays to go to bookshops, people!

While I’m on the subject, I am really impressed that so many bookshops in this country are having a “Civilised Saturday” as an antidote to “Black Friday”. Going into a real bookshop for a good browse is always fun, but is so much better than the hunt for elusive ‘bargains’.

Anyway, back to the book. This Scottish Mystery as it is subtitled is not the most gripping in the series, but has a truly clever finale. A woman is murdered in a locked room. Some people have seen her as a saint, others know that she can be cruel and manipulating.  Either way, her murder must be solved, and Inspector Dundas duly arrives, full of ambition and drive. One of the suspects rejoices in the name Duchlan, and I was beginning to get confused. The Highland setting and theme makes this book even more challenging, though no less enjoyable. Thank goodness for the amateur sleuth, Dr Hailey, who perseveres in the face of opposition to find the truth  and save the day (and several characters!).

This book is a worthy addition to the British Library Crime Classics series. The plot is undoubtedly more clever and dense than some of the series, and is not as approachable as Quick Curtain for example. It is a difficult, complex plot, but the cast of potential suspects is kept rigorously small and the setting is deftly described. The characters are well drawn, and their motivations (not only to murder!) worked out realistically in the context of the novel. If I was given the option of reading another Anthony Wynne novel, I would definitely do so, so I was pleased to see that the good Doctor Hailey appeared in another twenty six novels…

This book is ideal for those collecting the series, and of interest to those who like locked door and mysteries set in the 1930s. The Scottish setting is well developed and integral to the story both in terms of the locality and the customs observed by the people. The female characters do play vital parts, unlike some of these novels, and I felt consequently that this book achieves a better balance than some. Whenever you do get your hands on a copy, I think that you will enjoy it!

7 thoughts on “Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne – a British Library Crime Classic

  1. Thanks for the review, it sounds like a great book and is one I’m really looking forward to reading. As a lover of impossible crimes, I’m extremely pleased to see not only that this series is bringing some back into print (there are two more scheduled for the first part of 2016) but also that what is being brought back is of high quality. It is the be hoped that this encourages people to seek more of this type of mystery out, and that pubishers follow suit and publish more to meet the demand….hey, I’m an optimist!

    Also very interested to learn about Civilised Saturday; thanks for bringing that to my attention.

    1. I’m glad you appreciated the post! I’ve also started to collect The Collins Crime club reprints, “The Detective Club” which seem to be aiming for even older murder mysteries Than the British Library. “The Mystery of the Skeleton Key” (1919) feels a little Victorian so far…

      1. Yeah, I get the impression that collection skews a bit older; slightly more into late-Victorian sensation fiction…not quite so much my thing. However, always willing to be proved wrong!

  2. Thanks! I have just read your “Farewell Persephone…” post and love the idea of the grapes for wine…we have not quite achieved that in Northumberland…
    I’m glad that I add to your list of books to read; mine is so long that I sometimes despair, but not for long!

  3. Oh, thank you to have read my own blog. I tend to mingle literature with life. But my life and literature and the arts (music, painting, etc.) are really linked. They help me live. Grapes… Well, I live not very far from Bordeaux. So, grapes are part of our lives like wheat… Very different from Northumberland!!

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