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Rupert Sethleigh is a pretty objectionable character and no one is really sorry when his body is found, headless and jointed in a butcher's shop. His relatives are all under suspicion as are many of the villagers. There is also a Druidic sacrifice stone which may or may not have something to do with it as blood form the corpse is found on it. Rupert seems to have been blackmailing many of the villagers as well and kept a stock of incriminating information just in case it might come in handy.

Fortunately the inimitable Mrs Bradley is staying in the village and she is soon on the case. This is an interesting story with plenty of likely murder suspects to keep the reader guessing and plenty of possible motives. I like Gladys Mitchell's writing style and her characters especially Mrs Bradley and her plots are satisfyingly complex. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes their crime novels without too much graphic violence.
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This 1930 novel is set firmly in an England of manor houses, lorgnettes, cucumber sandwiches, absent-minded vicars, wills about to be changed, people talking at length about nothing in particular - oh, and human remains hanging from hooks in a butcher's shop.

A mischievous narrative presents many suspects, several theories and, new to the neighbourhood, Beatrice Lestrange Bradley - a small wizened sleuth prone to cackling. No prizes for guessing she deduces who did what.

For full enjoyment one has to accept much that is preposterous - not least seemingly half the neighbourhood roaming the woods on the evening of the death. Throughout Gladys Mitchell's style appears gently mocking. ('"It's me!" said Felicity, with an ungrammatical terseness born of nervousness.')

A murder mystery that will either try the patience or provoke chuckles of pleasure. "Superbly odd" declares the cover. It is certainly that.
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on 3 December 2012
This early Mrs Bradley mystery is a hugely enjoyable murder mystery romp. One gets the feeling Miss Mitchell's tongue was in her cheek when writing this one, it's got a slightly light and mischievious feel. This is despite the gruesome murder, the victim being dismembered and hung up in a butcher's shop no less.

The wonderful Mrs Bradley is on form as always with her rich voice and saurian grin. There's a good range of characters here, and as always Mitchell is most on form when mischeiviously describing the less attractive aspects of some of them - Mrs Bryce-Harringay for example.

Mitchell always excelled at beautifully describing the settings of her mysteries, and there's less of that here, instead concentrating on the complex plot and the multiple characters, all of whom could have committed the murder. Not my favourite Gladys Mitchell so far in my quest of reading them all in hopelessley the wrong order, but a very good one nonetheless. If you like Gladys Mitchell you'll love it; if you're new to her perhaps the complex and Mrs Bradley-free first section might be a little offputting.
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on 12 August 2013
The second Mrs Bradley adventure mixes butchers, sacrificial stones, secret lovers and helpful kids.

I can understand the less positive reviews of this one. Loving 'Speedy Death', I was less taken with this one. The plot feels very random and the morally dubious ending feels a but iffy, but I love Mrs Bradley and feel the grotesque descriptions of her person are apt and amusing. Perhaps, it's better to sit back and enjoy the detail, Mrs Bradley's cackling rather than impose any rational thought on this one. It's not a very satisfying read, but it isn't a boring one.
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on 29 April 2014
About 20yrs ago there was a wonderful adaptation of this on BBC Radio4 which I have tried in vain to purchase(too expensive). I bought the book in the hope of recapturing the magic of the radio play but was disappointed. In fact I gave up quite quickly. I found Ms.Mitchell's style of writing quite awkward to read and I couldn't follow the plot.
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on 20 May 2014
This is a delightful mix of old-fashioned police procedural with good characters and plenty of twists and turns, and of course the magnificent Mrs Beatrice Lestrange Bradley,
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on 15 December 2013
All the running about in the woods confused me at times but O.K. in the end. I did not like Miss Bradley here. A strange woman. Disappointing.
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on 25 March 2013
I love all of Gladys Mitchell's books as they are quite complex. The author has created a great character in Mrs Bradley.
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on 29 August 2015
Old fashioned but a funny plot. Cardboard characters . An interesting denouement. It kept me turning the pages.
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on 28 September 2016
Well done Gladys Mitchell. First class.
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