In 1806, the parson of the Worcestershire village of Oddingley was killed with a shotgun. The killer was seen and nearly apprehended on the spot but he escaped. Some of the local residents seemed strangely reluctant to pursue the murderer: the parson had been at violent odds with a number of the leading farmers of the town and there were rumours that they had been drinking to his damnation and offering money to someone who would shoot him.
The investigation was concluded in 1830.
This was a brilliantly told narration of these events. There is lots of background detail: we really get a feeling for the life of the village in pre-industrial England. The book would fascinate just for its window onto the contortions of English justice at this time: there were strict riles governing whether a confession was admissible in court; you could not be tried as an accessory to a crime until the principal malefactor had been convicted; there were coroner's courts, magistrates, assize judges and Grand Juries. The clues are dropped as delicately as in a whodunnit and the characters are clearly drawn.
And it was so atmospheric that I started being nervous of dark corners.
Excellent. December 2013; 322 pages.
I am still trying to decide whether this was better than Mr Briggs' hat or the account of the Ratcliffe Road murders mentioned in The Maul and the Pear Tree.
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57