Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jack on the Gallows Tree: Review

In Jack on the Gallows Tree, Carolus Deene, Senior History Master at a boys' public school and gentleman detective extraordinaire is faced with a very odd murder case.  In the course of an evening, two elderly ladies from Buddington-on-the-Hill are found strangled and laid out clasping an Easter lily in their hands.  The two ladies did not know each other and there are tenuous links at best between them--they both sold gold to the same "gold-clapper," for instance.  While there are obvious suspects for each of their murders individually, there doesn't seem to be anyone who would benefit from both deaths.

Deene, who has been suffering from jaundice, has been sent to Buddington-on-the-Hill for a rest cure.  His headmaster strongly objected to the doctor's suggestion of a nice bit of sea air at Bournemouth or Torquay (both places recently in the newspaper for horrid murders) and plumps for the dull-sounding Buddington.  Little did he know that he was sending Deene straight into a bit of death in the countryside.  

Deene quickly recovers his strength and is soon sitting up and taking notice of the excitement in the village. The police have few clues beyond the lilies and it is up to Deene to figure out whether a madman with thing for strangling old ladies is on the loose or if there is a clever plot behind it all.  True to Golden Age tradition he holds a final wrap-up scene in which the answers are revealed.

This is quite a fun little mystery.  Bruce's books are pretty fairly clued, filled with wonderfully eccentric characters, and make for a nice cozy evening of reading. Lots of good British humor too.  I had the wool pulled over my eyes...all ready to suspect someone who didn't seem to be getting quite enough attention and was fooled.  A good three and a half star read.

1 comment:

Gypsi said...

This series sound really good; I've just added it to my "to find" list!