Thursday, May 31, 2012
New Graves at Great Norne: Review
"Nothing ever happens at Great Norne." Or so says one of the characters in Henry Wade's 1947 mystery set in a small East Anglian village where life has been fairly untouched by the progress of time between the World Wars. But New Graves at Great Norne will prove him wrong in a very deadly way. It all begins with the vicar....his death is put down as an accident. From all appearances, he missed his footing in a heavy fog and died from the blunt force of hitting his head on the quay-side stairs. His death is followed by what looks like a suicide and then house fire which claims another life. But a sharp-eyed junior officer--the first detective for Great Norne finds several indications that the suicide and the accidental death in the house fire may not be what they seem. The Chief Constable decides to bring Scotland Yard in right away--before the trail gets cold. And Inspector Myrtle is detailed to help the local policemen get to the bottom of these deaths. Before it's over they will discover that the vicar's death was really the beginning and there will be two more deaths and another attempt before Myrtle uncovers the connection between all the victims.
This is a very nicely done vintage mystery. Inspector Myrtle is by no means the "wonder boy from the Yard" and makes some mistakes on his way to the solution. There are red herrings that catch his eye and several village inhabitants that just won't tell all they know to the police--whether it's the local constable or the man from London--and that inhibits his progress. Wade is very strong on characterization and a sense of place. The village comes alive and the reader gets a very good feel for what it's like in a small village when they begin to suspect that a killer is in their midst. I have to admit to spotting the culprit, but I certainly didn't figure out the reason. That was a bit of a surprise. Three and 3/4 stars...almost a four.