Death Walks the Woods by Cyril Hare (1954) aka The Yew Tree’s Shade

The small town of Yewbury is shaken by the seemingly motiveless murder of Mrs. Pink, “a widow, of course, entirely given up to good works.” Motiveless that is until you take into account her very surly landlord Mr. Todman, who wants her out of his cottage, “one way or another.” Or Horace Wendon, Lady Furlong’s nephew, failing farm owner, and Yewbury’s source for black-market eggs and pork, who has taken quite an interest in Mrs. Pink of late. Then there is Mrs. Ransome, the not quite respectable lady upon whom Mrs. Pink “had a very curious effect.” And what about Mr. Humphrey Rose, former MP and financial swindler? How is it he knows Mrs. Pink, since he’s only recently been released from prison? 

Francis Pettigrew, now retired to this enclave in Markshire, has a marvelous view of the surrounding countryside from his front window—and of Mrs. Pink on the path to her death. He would rather not be involved, but as usual, finds himself right in the thick of it.

The mystery is simple and fairly satisfactory, if rather unexciting. But what makes this a very enjoyable and entertaining story are the injections of gentle humor, social satire, a little social history, and Hare’s very well-drawn cast of characters. 

My particular favorites are Superintendent Trimble and Police-Constable Merrett. Poor Trimble suffers such feelings of inadequacy, tending to overcompensate for his insecurities with extreme efficiency, and a somewhat humorless manner. His dealings with Yewbury’s Police-Constable Merrett are delightful for the fact that, while Trimble sees him as “a man who typified everything he deplored in an officer—rusticity, ignorance, lack of ambition…”, it is Merrett who pulls Trimble’s chestnuts out of the fire on more than one occasion.

A leisurely, humorous and enjoyable read, which I very much recommend.

My Judgment – 4/5

Prior Rulings – The Puzzle Doctor @ In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2013 Scattergories – #35 Genuine Fakes: Cyril Hare is the pseudonym of Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark

Calendar of Crime – April #4 Easter

4 thoughts on “Death Walks the Woods by Cyril Hare (1954) aka The Yew Tree’s Shade

  1. I have read this one, but reading your review it sounds like a completely new story! That is a reflection on my total lack of recall on this book, and not your reviewing skills lol

    1. That’s okay, I’ve read entire books and not recognized that I’ve read it until the solution smacks me in the face. And there is no way to offend my reviewing skills-or lack thereof LOL!!

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