Death Of A Bridegroom (1957) by John Rhode

The Mickfield family was reasonably settled in their various lives but things were thrown into uproar when the eighty year-old Caroline decided to marry Robert Halesworth. Despite the various inheritances that were disrupted by this, the marriage went off without a hitch and things settled down again. And then Caroline’s daughter decided on a marriage of convenience as well to a local man. And this time, the groom doesn’t make it to the altar – as the previous night he hangs himself in his workshop…

The local police have suspicions of murder, so Scotland Yard in the shape of Superintendent Jimmy Waghorn arrive to take over the case. Luckily Jimmy has the ear of Dr Priestley, as there seem to have been many motives and many opportunities to stop the wedding…

This is a very late Dr Priestley/Jimmy Waghorn title – the 65th I think – so as people who know the series will be aware, this means little Priestley and Waghorn taking the lead. Basically, Waghorn gets a hint from Priestley who doesn’t seem that interested in the case to be honest.

To be fair, that’s not surprising, as the first time Jimmy goes to Priestley for advice, he has a hanging body with hand marks around the neck under the rope and he wants to know if it might be murder… I wonder, given how often Jimmy gets the wrong end of the stick, is that why Scotland Yard send a SUPERINTENDENT to the sticks to investigate, are they just trying to get rid of him?

Anyway, this isn’t bad – it’s not great either, but I’ve read worse from Rhode. As for the mystery… well, it depends, really. The motive for the crime is mentioned once and, to me, it stood out like a sore thumb and then it was just turning the pages until the inevitable. But if you don’t spot it, then there is every chance that it might take the reader completely by surprise. I honestly don’t know if it’s really obvious or I’m a crime-solving genius. I don’t think it’s the latter…

Structurely, it’s standard late-Rhode with Jimmy having a few suspects, eliminating them while finding a few more, repeat a few times until he gets a shove in the right direction from Dr P. What is disappointing is how the focus shifts away from the basic premise of the book as at the end of the day, the motivations are a bit too simple for me.

Still, as I said, not the worst, but far from the best.

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