The Cheltenham Square Murder is the latest in the British Crime Classics. I continue to devour these books as soon as they are offered. John Bude impressed me with The Sussex Downs Murder. This latest offering is equally mind boggling. Even if you are a seasoned mystery reader, you will not be able to guess WHoDunIt.
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The story begins with the description of an area known as Regency Square. There are a group of houses around it and the author paints a vivid picture of the people who live there, and their dynamics with each other. One peer is mentioned only to show their disdain and don’t figure much in the story.
The crime occurs pretty early and it is gruesome. Just like in Sussex Downs, there is a quite graphic description of the murder itself and the author is not shy in describing the crime scene. This is one part of the book I was not very fond of. It takes away the ‘cozy’ feel I expect. But like me, you can just skim over these parts if you don’t have the stomach for them.
A shady character, Captain Cotton, who is universally acknowledged as no good, gets an arrow in his head. Based on the math, the trajectory of the arrow and other technical stuff, it could only have come from an empty house on the block. Only the owner has keys to it, and he is immediately the main suspect.
We learn that not one, not two, but 4-5 people in the square are expert archers. Many of them don’t have strong alibis. Meredith, a superindent we met before, is visiting the area and assists the local police.
The police work methodically, checking alibis, weeding out suspects. There is an impasse, with no clues coming forth when the second murder occurs. This certainly ups the stakes for the reader.
I thought I had the solution, but then I didn’t. For a while it seemed like everyone was in on it. Maybe they were?
If you are a mystery fan, you need to pick up this book right now, find a quiet corner somewhere, and get ready to be engrossed in one fine juicy mystery.
Yes, The Cheltenham Square Murders is a MUST READ.