Review 1794: Fell Murder

The Garths have been at Garthmere, a farm on the fells of the Lake District, from before Flodden Field. The patriarch, Robert Garth, is a hard man of 83, stubborn and hot-tempered, who will not agree to the modernizations proposed by his daughter, Marion. He has long been estranged from his heir, oldest son Richard, who moved away to Canada. His middle son, Charles, lost every penny out in Asia to the Japanese invasion and loafs around unless put to work. His youngest son, Malcolm, is frail and spends his time keeping bees and writing poetry.

It is 1944, and Richard returns to the area, on leave from the Navy. He meets his father’s bailiff, John Staple, on the fell. He doesn’t want to see his family—he just wanted to look at the land—so he asks Staple not to tell them he is there. But he is overheard by Malcolm. A few days later, Robert is found dead, shot and left inside an old outbuilding.

Chief Inspector Macdonald is called on the scene after initial interviews by Superintendent Layng, who is not good at handling the reticent farmers. Although Macdonald gets along better, he finds himself with either too many or too few suspects and no proof against anyone.

If Fell Murder has a fault, it is that the murderer is too easy to guess, being the only unlikable main character. This was often a fault of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries, too, but I still enjoyed reading them. Oh, there’s one other problem, the handling of a boy of limited intellect, but that’s due to the change in times. Just a warning.

Of these British Library Crime Classic reprints, I’ve discovered E. C. R. Lorac to be one of my favorites, because of her attention to setting and character. This is a good one.

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Murder in the Mill Race

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4 thoughts on “Review 1794: Fell Murder

  1. FictionFan February 3, 2022 / 5:37 pm

    I loved this one because, as always, she’s so good at the setting. In fact it’s the places I always remember from her books rather than the plots.

  2. Jane February 4, 2022 / 10:57 am

    I agree with FF the setting is what I remember from this one, although I’ve enjoyed all the Lorac’s I’ve read so far and luckily I’ve got a few more to go!

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