Author : Anthony Wynne
Publisher : Niyogi Books
Genre : Mystery, Historical Fiction, Scottish Fiction
Source : Publisher
Rating : 2.5 Stars
Summary : Duchlan Castle is a gloomy, forbidding place in the Scottish Highlands. Late one night the body of Mary Gregor, sister of the laird of Duchlan, is found in the castle. She has been stabbed to death in her bedroom – but the room is locked from within and the windows are barred. The only tiny clue to the culprit is a silver fish’s scale, left on the floor next to Mary’s body. Inspector Dundas is dispatched to Duchlan to investigate the case. The Gregor family and their servants are quick – perhaps too quick – to explain that Mary was a kind and charitable woman. Dundas uncovers a more complex truth and the cruel character of the dead woman continues to pervade the house after her death. Soon further deaths, equally impossible, occur and the atmosphere grows ever darker. Superstitious locals believe that fish creatures from the nearby waters are responsible; but luckily for Inspector Dundas, the gifted amateur sleuth Eustace Hailey is on the scene and unravels a more logical solution to this most fiendish of plots.
This book is NOT for you if you like modern thrillers. On the other hand, if you enjoy the much older books that aren’t exciting or page turning but slowly interesting, then you will love Murder Of A Lady. Anthony Wynne is an author who is a master at the Locked Room Murder genre and this book is one of those that will leave you thoroughly exasperated about who did it and how. I do have a few gripes with the story, one of them being logic and the other being pacing, but for now I shall tell you that this book has a lot of things going for it.
It has a sort of disabled character who isn’t displayed in a bad light. (EDIT : I believe this is a series now and the doctor(this character) as a recurring protagonist so that is brilliant. Very Cormoran Strike) He didn’t take the easy way out by making the scarred/disabled character a villain and that, I love. It also features Scottish folklore and a half man half merperson which I have never heard about so it was all the more exciting. There were some tropes, poor sweet daughter in law and evil rich people but that, I suppose, was the norm at the time? Either way, Murder Of A Lady is an atmospheric, folklore-y tale that will keep you reading simply for the characters and plot. PS, I also think I’ve read this before, like an old tattered copy, not sure if it is that eerie deja vu thing. My mum has definitely read this earlier because she knew what had happened.
WHAT I LIKED
The plot was absolutely brilliant. I loved the confusion and the number of bodies that kept dropping with no explanation and no clue. No one knew who the killer was and even we, as the reader, hardly got any hints. That way, as a plotter, the author is absolutely brilliant. I did love the atmosphere of the novel, that is what made me continue. Not to mention the addition of the folklore that I, as a ardent fan of the podcast Lore, enjoyed. I wish there had been more of an emphasis on it, more hysteria surrounding it but alas, there wasn’t. Nevertheless, it kept me reading and I must applaud the author for keeping me with the book despite the slow and draggy writing style.
I also adore the cover. Just LOOK at it!
WHAT I DISLIKED
As the last line in the previous section says, the slow and draggy writing style. It starts off well, then it grinds to a halt like a car that won’t move and we push the car through the muck and mud and finally get it out on solid ground where it takes off again. It would have been better edited, or better written. But I should keep in mind that it was meant for 1931, when it was originally published. People had a lot more time on their hands back then and probably enjoyed slowness in novels. Have modern thrillers spoilt me? Also, the ending, the brilliant explanation that tied everything together, didn’t make sense so….there is that.
Read this if you are looking for an atmospheric slow novel that will take you away from wherever you are. Not if you like fast paced thrillers.