Death Of A Busybody by George Bellairs

death-of-a-busybodyIn the village of Hilary Magna, everyone is wary of Miss Tither. More than a gossip, she is a busybody – not only determined to find out the secrets of the inhabitants of the village, but also to put things to rights, usually with the help of a handful of religious tracts. Infidelity, drunkenness – all things must be put to rights. Until she is found drowned in the vicar’s cesspit – that tends to put a stop to busybodying…

Enter Inspector Littlejohn of Scotland Yard, sent due to his “understanding of country ways”. Allied with the local police, he sets out to find the murderer. But a second death soon shows the true nastiness under the surface in the village…

George Bellairs aka Harold Blundell wrote more than fifty novels, a large proportion featuring Inspector Littlejohn. The first was Littlejohn On Leave, in 1941 – this one was book three and the first to be republished by the British Library, who will be releasing a two-for-one of the next two books, The Dead Shall Be Raised and Murder Of A Quack, soon.

It’s an interesting read, this one. Littlejohn is fairly personality-free, but Bellairs has a light touch with his writing. It’s almost a shame that Littlejohn turns up, as I preferred the eccentric Reverend Claplady as a lead character. Despite this, it’s a very readable slice of Golden Age nostalgia, a classic-style whodunit, despite a few too many ooo-aarr bumpkin accents. It falters a little with a problem of deciding what exactly the motive was for the crime – one reveal is oddly set-up to be utterly irrelevant to the plot (possibly).

Still, it’s a very pleasant read and well worth your time. I’m looking forward to the next two books – keep an eye out for the review coming soon near you. In the meantime, this one is Recommended.

For another opinion, here’s Kate’s review from Cross Examing Crime.


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