Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Murder of a Quack

The Murder of a Quack (1943) by George Bellairs once again finds Scotland Yard's Inspector Littlejohn investigating murder in a small English village. This time Nathaniel Wall, a beloved local "quack" bonesetter is found hanging from one of the contraptions he uses in his cures. At first it looks like the only people who had any dislike at all for the man were certified doctors. Wall comes from a family of bonesetters (those who can manipulate bones and joints, but who have no formal training) and the people of Stalden have come to rely on his skill. In fact, they prefer him over the new doctor who has bought the practice of a doctor who long had respect for the bonesetter. Circumstances (the doctor's alcoholic ways and a certain incident of a missed broken collarbone) had caused the villagers to seek out Wall's help even more. But would a doctor really resort to murder to get rid of the competition? 

Littlejohn soon discovers that there are others with a possible motive--from the young woman who had considered him an uncle...until "uncle" decided to poke his nose into her romantic affairs to the young man she wishes to marry (and who has a decided row with the doctor) to the mysterious man who once sought the doctor's help with a deformity. When newspaper clippings are found which feature a bank robbery and a well-known forgery, Littlejohn begins to wonder what the connections are. Once he figures that out, he'll be well on his way to solving the mystery. But not before another body is found at the bottom of a well....

This is another pleasant mystery in the Littlejohn line-up. The Inspector is a good man who investigates at a steady pace and with little "flair" or excitement, but provides a nice comfortable story to follow. As with the previous novel, the major complaint is that there are too few suspects. There isn't much doubt after about half-way in who the main culprit is, but Bellairs provides a little bonus that makes it well worthwhile. These stories are perfect for when you don't want a complicated mystery--just a little puzzle and nice visit to Britain of the 1940s. There is also a thread of wry humor that runs throughout and makes things interesting. ★★ and 1/2.

All Challenges Fulfilled: Just the Facts, Virtual Mount TBR, Alphabet Soup Authors, Century of Books, World at War, Cloak & Dagger, Print Only, Strictly Print Challenge, Brit Crime Classics, Outdo Yourself, Mystery Reporter, How Many Books, Medical Examiner,


Jean said...

Hey, I read this too, just a little while ago!

Bev Hankins said...

It was pretty good, wasn't it?

Jean said...

Yeah, I liked both of the stories.