A murder mystery written in 1902!
A woman’s body is found thrown into a well in the sleepy town of Brunton. The woman was the vicar’s housekeeper and he was known to have argued with her and given her notice to leave.
The vicar protests his innocence but is arrested and found guilty. His sentence to hang is reprieved at the last minute and commuted to life imprisonment. The rest of the story follows his attempts to prove his innocence amid many trials and tribulations.
I enjoyed this story. I liked that it was both different from and similar to more modern detective novels. I enjoyed it even though, as an aficionado of murder mysteries, I could spot the plot from early on.
I liked the fact that the heroine of the plot didn’t just hang around languishing but got on and did her best to help solve the mystery. Quite racy for 1902 I suspect!
I enjoyed the dilemmas of the local police force who are faced with arresting someone they respect because of the evidence they uncover. It feels like a modern understanding of the ambiguity of the factual and a person’s gut instinct about another human being.
It was inevitable I suppose that with the central character being a vicar, and the author being a Methodist minister, there would a “God will take care of his flock” angle to the book. That also comes with the age of the book as well. It isn’t my thing but in this instance it wasn’t too obtrusive or distracting from the story.
Overall, this was a good afternoon’s read and I’m looking for other crime writers of the period to read. All suggestions welcome.