“Well, now it looks as though you have a real-life murder on your hands.” – Murder in Little Shendon, p. 26.
Title: Murder in Little Shendon
Author: A. H. Richardson
Publication date: 28th August 2015
My rating: ★★★☆☆
Goodreads rating: 4.20
Genre: Murder Mystery
I’m hosting a giveaway of a FREE physical copy to one lucky competition winner (open internationally). Stick around until the end to find out how to win a copy of Murder in Little Shendon.
I want to say thank you very much to A.H. Richardson and Book Publicity Services (Kelsey in particular) for getting in contact with me, and providing me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. All views in this post are my own.
The quote I chose above is my favourite quote in the book.
Spoiler free review – I talk about aspects of the story, but not any that give away the overall plot/ending.
Blurb – Nobody in Little Shendon particularly liked Mr. Fynche. Therefore, when he is murdered in a rather gruesome manner, the suspect list grows quite long – and includes everyone from his housekeeper to Lady Armstrong and her household staff, the shy librarian, a feisty major, the charming post mistress owners of the town pub, even the vicar and a pair of American tourists. To aid the investigation, Inspector Stanley Burgess calls on his old friend, Sir Victor Hazlitt and a new friend, the noted Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. The three sift methodically through the alibis and life stories of the suspects they uncover…
Goodreads – Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens – not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalising tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man’s housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his lady friend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbours watch neighbours to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead – it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.
A Killing in The Bygone Era
BARTHOLOMEW FYNCHE LEANED OVER HIS DESK, adjusted his pince-nez and peered down at the document on his desk. He gave a series of grunts, which culminated in a long “Hmmm”.
He scratched a brief note on the pad in front of him. He always used a pen and ink because he did not approve of ballpoint pens and regarded them as signs of an uncivilized society.
Mr. Fynche turned his attention to the small jade horse in front of him, running his fingers over it gently, almost lovingly. He frowned, took a deep breath, and removed a key from around his neck. He unlocked a drawer to his desk, placed the small statue inside and carefully locked it again.
He glanced at the French Ormolu clock on the wall before consulting his watch, and pursed his lips together in annoyance. He didn’t like people who were not punctual. Time was money, and his time was particularly precious.
The retired Mr. B. Fynche had been involved in a number of most interesting exploits in his life, not the least of which involved his extraordinary knowledge of rare documents, famous objets d’art, and rare paintings. It was rumored that he had been involved with MI5 just after the war, but no one was quite certain about this. Nowadays he puttered fairly contentedly in his antique shop, which he had named The Bygone Era.
He did the occasional appraisal for some local villagers and was occasionally persuaded to go into London (a trip he detested) to authenticate something or other for the odd client he had. He was, as far as anyone knew, unmarried, quite without family, with the exception of a sister who was rumored to live in New Zealand and a brother who was deceased.
At first glance, Fynche’s little shop seemed to be an untidy mass of bric-a-brac, consisting of small statues, framed documents, interesting looking things in glass cases, paintings of all descriptions, prints, watches, chains and… much much more. Mr. Fynche however, knew exactly where everything was, referring to it on occasion as organized clutter.
Today was Thursday, better known as early closing day when most if not all the shops in the village closed about noon, and The Bygone Era was no exception. Fynche liked to lock the doors, put up the CLOSED sign and busy himself with his latest project, and he had many of those.
The little man glanced down once again at some notes he had made. For the first time in his life, he was not quite sure how to deal with this. Probably the best policy was to be frank and explain that this was not something with which he chose to be involved. He scratched the back of his head thoughtfully. Perhaps no mention of the police should be made at this juncture, for he felt instinctively that he would have to be careful here.
A knock on the door interrupted his reverie and Fynche’s eyes again darted up to the clock. He frowned, realizing that the knock was coming from the back door, which was rarely used. Thoroughly disgruntled, the old man unlatched the door.
“Come in,” he said curtly, “and see that you close the door behind you.” He paused, then growled in a surly manner, “You’re late; we need to talk.”
“I’m sorry. There was some work left to do,” answered the other. A breeze blew through the open window behind Fynche’s desk.
“Close the window, please. That wretched cleaning woman always leaves the window open, and it blows my papers all around.”
“Very well.” His visitor closed the window obediently.
“Come around to the front, where I can see you. Something quite interesting has come up and we need to talk. Clearly, decisions have to be made here. Did you hear me…?”
Fynche made a half-turn, threw up his hands defensively, and gave a smothered cry, but it was too late. The broad brass base of an Edwardian candle holder was wielded aloft and came crashing down with a sickening thud into Mr. Fynche’s skull. Blood flew everywhere, seeping into the dark wood of the desk and into some papers and puddling on to the floor.
Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, open-mouthed and eyes glazed, his hands futilely clutching at the air, slumped over the side of his chair and onto the floor… very very dead.
The visitor spent a moment or two looking around the cluttered shop, hunting for something, but then thought better of it. With a sudden gesture, the visitor pried a large gold ring from Mr. Fynche’s finger, hastily made the decision to leave and, used The Bygone Era’s back door as the avenue of escape. The door was closed quietly, and the visitor slipped out noiselessly into the anonymity of the bustling throng of last-minute shoppers in the High Street. It was a bright sunny day in late spring…
Opinion of the book:
I am not usually one for reading murder mystery books, but when I read the excerpt above I couldn’t help but be intrigued by Murder in Little Shendon and I’ll be honest, it did not disappoint. From the get go, it was fast paced and drew me in, leaving me questioning who the killer was and providing an enjoyable read.
Without giving too much of the plot away, I was left guessing who the murderer was until the very end, I was happy that my guess was correct!
The book is written well and although there are many characters, they all have individual voices and are clearly distinguishable. My favourite characters in particular were definitely Lady Armstrong (what a character!) and Beresford Brandon. I liked how the plot was interesting and explored all the characters and each possibility of why someone could possibly be the murderer, it’s clear that a lot of thought and effort went into creating this novel.
A. H. Richardson provides much comic relief throughout the book and I did laugh out loud a few times! I also thought it was great that she included an epilogue at the end of the novel to show what all the characters did with their lives after the murder was solved.
Murder in Little Shendon definitely has an Agatha Christie type feel to it and it reminded me of the hours I used to spend watching Midsummer Murders with my Great Nan, both of us attempting to guess who the murderer was.
The language and writing style of the novel is slightly dated, which fits perfectly into the post Second World War era in which it’s set.
I would certainly recommend this book to people who enjoy reading Murder Mysteries as I think it would be an enjoyable read. I would also recommend that readers who may not usually read this genre like me, read this too. It’s always great to branch out and read different types of genres as you may well be pleasantly surprised, like I was with Murder in Little Shendon.
I enjoyed guessing who the murderer was and I loved how individual each character was. Their appearances, personas and personalities were all well thought out and really made the story for me.
I have one physical copy of Murder in Little Shendon to give away, thanks to Book Publicity Services. (The winner can review an E copy of the book if preferred however) Your entry will be valid if you are following both my blog and twitter account. There are also extra entries and daily entries included in the competition if you’re an eager beaver! 🙂
The competition is open internationally so everyone is able to enter and it will end on Sunday 17th September at 4:59p.m. I will be announcing the winner in the week following the competition close date and will pass on the winner’s information to Book Publicity Services, who will then post the book to you. 🙂
Good luck and I hope you enjoy!
(P.S, I apologise in advance for any typing errors, my kitten is currently climbing over the laptop in an attempt to catch the letters on the screen as I type!)
Next post – Interview with A. H. Richardson, author of Murder in Little Shendon:
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Goodreads book description – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26588555-murder-in-little-shendon?ac=1&from_search=true
Book Publicity Services – http://bookpublicityservices.com/
Link to Murder in Little Shendon Book – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murder-Little-Shendon-H-Richardson-ebook/dp/B014T5QFTG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505089497&sr=8-1&keywords=murder+in+little+shendon
Murder in Little Shendon Book Giveaway competition – https://gleam.io/competitions/NatTt-murder-in-little-shendon-international-physical-copy-giveaway