Death Comes at Christmas (Dead Men’s Morris)

Bearing a gift of a stuffed boar’s head, Mrs. Beatrice Lestrange Bradley descends upon her nephew Carey Lestrange’s Oxfordshire pig farm for the holidays. The house is a lively one: in addition to Mrs. Bradley’s grandnephew Denis and chauffeur George, country life is well maintained by Mrs. Ditch, whose husband and sons are hearty practitioners of the morris dance. News travels that a neighboring solicitor has received a note with money challenging the man to attend a ghost-watch for the appearance of a local legend. The unfortunate lawyer accepts the terms, and meets his fate along the riverside, presumably dead of a heart attack.

Foul play–if any there be, argues the unconvinced country inspector–may have been instigated by a quarrelsome pig farmer named Simith, who had a standing feud with the solicitor. The suspect, however, meets his end shortly thereafter; apparently, it is death-by-boar. Such colorful demises intrigue the old psychoanalyst, and Mrs. Bradley begins investigating in earnest, uncovering hidden motives, secret passages, defaced churches, and even finds murderous intent in a series of pig book entries. As the winter gives way to spring, Mrs. Bradley grows increasingly concerned that the killer may strike again, and this time much too close to the Lestrange farm.

(Synopsis kindly by Jason Half for information only. If any third party would like to use please contact jason@jasonhalf.com).

Reviews:

“…one of the half-dozen best detective writers in this country” Nicholas Blake

“…another leading lady of English detection scarcely less senior [than Agatha Christie]” Times Literary Supplement