Victor Gunn: Death in December

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 3 – Armistice / Veterans’ Day

Murder at Castle Cloon


This novella by Victor Gunn (one of several pseudonyms of Edwy Searles Brooks) also forms the centerpiece of the second British Library Christmas mystery short fiction anthologies edited by Martin Edwards that I read this month (Crimson Snow), but I listened to it in the audio version narrated by Gordon Griffin, who is fast becoming one of my favorite narrators of classic / Golden Age British mysteries.

The story concerns a Christmas visit to Cloon Castle in Derbyshire, the home of Johnny Lister, sergeant to Chief Inspector Bill “Ironsides” Cromwell, Gunn’s gruffly iconic series detective.  And the two policemen haven’t even arrived ante portas yet when they’re running into their first mysterious appearance: a figure that seems to be walking in the snow at some distance; without, however, leaving so much as a single footprint.  When they are assembled around the fireplace after dinner with the other guests, the afternoon’s strange encounter is duly followed by the legend of the castle ghost and by a visit to the “ghost chamber”, but things take a serious turn when one of the guests engages to spend the night in the “ghost chamber” to disprove the legend once and for all, only to be found injured and of obviously disturbed mind hours later — and when not long thereafter, a stranger’s corpse is found in one of the graves in the family crypt abutting the “ghost chamber.”  The solution, when ultimately revealed by “Ironsides”, is very much down to earth and rather ugly, but there’s plenty of derring-do to be had along the way, including a rather fiendish attempt on the Chief Inspector’s life and much fine detection work (and enjoyable writing).

Since Johnny Lister’s father, the host of this story’s countryside Christmas gathering, is a retired general who has duly earned himself a DSO (I’m assuming in WWI — the story was first published in the early 1940s, but it sounds like the general’s retirement isn’t a recent one, and retiring in the midst of WWII doesn’t sound likely to begin with), I’m using this as my Veterans’ Day / Armistice Day read in the context of the 16 Festive Tasks.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1628245/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-square-3-armistice-day-veterans-day-murder-at-castle-cloon

One thought on “Victor Gunn: Death in December”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cats Literature

Halloween Bingo 2021: Card, Spells, Markers and Book Pool

Phew!  I’ve had blog display issues for the better part of August due to a stupid WP plugin acting up (and of course, it was a plugin allegedly intended to “facilitate” the import of content into my chosen theme — haha, right), but luckily they were resolved just in time for Halloween Bingo! (Gosh … […]

Read More
Blog Lifestyle

The Dazzling Blogger Award

  The Dazzling Blogger Award, designed by Helen at  Crispy Confessions, recognizes bloggers who  excel in at least one major area of blogging: writing skills, engagement, social media marketing, or content.   It was a huge surprise when Steve from A London Miscellany informed me the other day that he’d nominated me for this award.  Steve, thank you […]

Read More
Cats Literature Reviews

June 2021 and Mid-Year Reading Recap

Sigh.  Well, I think posting a monthly (and even half-year) reading recap a full three weeks into the next month has to be some sort of record, even for me, but here we are.  And I admit that at this point I’d even been contemplating holding off another week so as to combine this with […]

Read More
%d bloggers like this: