27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2000
Right from the first sentence, this book grips you and won't let go. I can't say anything about the plot without giving it away, so I'll just say that it will turn your expectations upside down. At one level, it is light and witty, but there's a menacing, disturbing undercurrent. Even though it's now nearly seventy years old, this book is still as fresh and original as if it were written yesterday. Most modern crime writers would give their right arm to create something this good.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2002
This masterful suspense thriller takes the unusual route of revealing the killer from the very first sentence. From that moment on, the reader is drawn into the mind of the hen-pecked, unfufilled doctor, his dreams of self assertion, his creative desires, and longing to escape his overbearing wife.
Iles is able to glean from the reader sympathy for his main character, in spite of the circumstances. The novel contains one of the most unusual, totally gripping finales ever written.
Superbly dramatised in the late '70's, this is a masterpiece of crime writing.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2003
A delightful comedy (for this is its main strength, not the fact that it was the first "psychological thriller"-and I have my doubts about this fact: didn't Mrs. Belloc Lowndes anticipate Cox?). Dr. Bickleigh, a philandering medico suffering from an inferiority complex, determines to rid himself of his wife, a bullying and domineering shrew, in order to marry his mistress-who announces her engagement to another man immediately after the murder. (Of course, his "ingenious" plan is immediately seen through by the other villagers.) Superb wit: excellent social satire-St. Mary Mead steeped in venomed ink, with plenty of amusingly catty back-biting and splendid caricatures. Berkeley at his most acerbic is highly amusing, in small doses-like aconitine.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2014
First saw this on TV (starring Hywel Bennett) in the 80s and loved it. This book, which the TV drama faithfully reproduces, should be a masterclass in writing a thriller about a psychopath.
I think I'm right in saying this was the first thriller where the one who Dunnit was revealed right at the beginning of the book. In fact in the first sentence! It is wonderfully well written with beautifully drawn village characters all of whom ring true. I have read it many times over the years and it never fails to grip me.
on 3 October 2010
Following a tennis party a G.P decides to murder the wife he hates, to be with the woman he loves. No spoilers there as this is revealed on the very first page.
Very entertaining, and surprisingly adult crime novel. The characterisation is what makes this book stand out from the likes of Christie and Heyer. The author's knack of turning the reader's perceptions regarding the characters, on their heads means your sympathies and allegiances switch around as the book goes on. His depiction of life in this little village conjures up a stifling atmosphere of gossip, recrimination, spite and secrets. A strangely moral book full of people who do 'immoral things'. Worth reading.
on 26 October 2015
Have been reading a lot of the novels from the so called 'golden age of crime writing'. This was a particular highlight. What a perverse little protagonist we had in Dr Bickleigh, but somehow I rather liked him (if not his twisted sense of morality). Imagine my surprise when we got to the twist at the end - SHAN'T SPOIL IT FOR YOU, but it literally made me laugh out loud. Looks like I shall be reading some more from this author - whatever his nom-de-plume may be
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2012
A good old fashioned murder- an easy read with well drawn characters-great for a wet sunday afternoon beside the fire.
on 18 April 2014
Richly satisfying story of a hen-pecked husband getting rid of his rebarbative wife and then, fired with enthusiasm, trying to get rid of equally obnoxious girl he had fancied; the vicar's horrid little daughter stirring thing up with the result that the husband is eventually arrested and charged with murder; found not guilty - and the terrifying twist at the end - Oh, you'll have to read it.
on 18 December 2014
If you are thinking of engaging in crime, this book will put you off! beautifully thought out. The writing seems a touch dated, though still perfectly readable, but the plot is gripping, complex, intense, detailed, and moves at a decent but not skimming pace, right till the last word. A true crime classic, makes most modern crime novels look weak.
on 16 June 2011
Excellent service and good idea, reselling old library books cheaply. Only way for my mum to get old Gollancz thrillers in large print. Book arrived in perfect time on the day of her birthday