Gladys Mitchell is often linked with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers as the three queens of the Golden Age of Mystery, but in reality Mitchell was not as well known or published in the United States. Thanks to the British Broadcasting System, however, many of her stories have found their way into feature film, with Dame Diana Rigg playing the part of Beatrice Bradley. Mitchell was a teacher of English, history and games at several British public (in reality private) schools. She was made a member of the Detection Club in 1933, and in 1976 she was awarded the Crime Writers' Association's Silver Dagger.
Beatrice Bradley is hot on the trail of a witch in the village of Spey, who she believes has in her possession a book written by one of her female relations. But she is waylaid by a friend on the Board of Governors of a local school to investigate a recent murder. The victim is almost universally disliked by his colleagues, but murder is murder. The school boasts the usual population of mischievous boys, and two of them might have real knowledge of the murder. Ms. Bradley joins her favorite nephew from Scotland Yard, Detective Inspector David Gavin, and the fun begins:
"'You, yourself, not to mention your sister, had actually been out of the house and at the Roman bath that night,' she gravely explained, 'and therefore you wanted to be sure that the police not suspect you of having murdered Mr. Conway.'
'Oh, nonsense!' said Mr. Loveday, with unusual vigor. 'We could scarcely have known that somebody would attack and drown poor Conway on a night when we were out of the house! By putting my house in order, as I believe I termed it, I merely wished to be certain that none of my boys could be held blameworthy. It was a very great shock to me when I was told that Merrys and Skene had been absent from the house one night not long before the event.'"
Gladys Mitchell contrives to turn TOM BROWN'S BODY into a whodunit twister and succeeds. From the first page she presents the reader with a whodunit barnstormer. Everyone is a suspect, and the real murderer does not emerge until Mitchell allows it.