Guest review today from J.A. Warnock our voice from the Borders. Murder in Little Shendon was published in 2015 by Serano Press. It is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.
Murder in Little Shendon – Review by J.A. Warnock
I am going to review ‘Murder in Little Shendon’ by A. H. Richardson from front to back. Don’t judge me; it is as good an idea as any other! The front cover is an interesting design which hovers somewhere between the murder scene blood spatter and a Rorschach test. The smiling faced, friendly looking ghostly shape (centre left) is oddly comforting though possibly the imaginings of my deranged brain.
Opening the cover, the warm, fuzzy feeling continues with a delightfully quaint list of contents. I cannot recall the last time I was presented with so reassuring a chapter heading as “And the murderer is…” and scanning down the rest of the list there is a definite theme of anyone for tennis and pink gin on the lawn. It is hard to know at this point if the author is aiming for a satirical swipe a la Comic Strip’s Famous Five or a faithful homage to English Murder Mystery writing but either way it is an enticing beginning; I willingly turn to page three. Two things immediately become clear. First is that the book is intended in earnest. Second is that I cannot review page by page or we will be here all week!
As is the prerogative of all good old-fashioned whodunits, the police are entirely unable (or in this case unwilling) to solve a serious crime without the assistance of an amateur sleuth or two and a title, posh accent or having done something meaningful in the war is all the qualification one needs to start taking statements. If this all sounds painfully twee then this book is absolutely not for you and you should stop reading now. If, on the other hand, this sounds like exactly your cup of tea then I can assure you ‘Murder in Little Shendon’ is a nice example of its kind and you should definitely give it a go. The story unfolds slowly with each detective interviewing a seemingly inexhaustible list of possible suspects and then reporting back to the group giving the reader every opportunity to analyse the evidence and draw their own conclusions. This is a fantastic book for anyone who likes to play along and try to work out which clues are clues and which are red herrings.
The village contains the most eclectic mix of characters. In fact the only factor that unites them, other than their postcode, is their universal dislike of the murder victim. Richardson cleverly adds a secondary layer of confusion when villagers start suspecting other villagers and with a variety of well meaning attempts to divert the glare of suspicion. All in all the plot is as tangled as a ball of Miss Marple’s knitting wool. I highly recommend getting your own copy and having a go at untangling it for yourself. Four Stars.
Murder in Little Shendon
Back of the Book
MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON
Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens — not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper.
Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man’s housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion.
Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village.
A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery.
Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead — it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.
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