After artist Lydia Arundel is found dead in her locked studio, with a gun close at hand, an inquest brings in a determination of suicide. But Major Tom Boddy, who knew Lydia well, finds it hard to believe that a woman so vibrant would ever contemplate suicide. Plus, there were so many with a motive for killing her. The Rev. Peter Swale-Reid, who racked with the guilt over a shameful episode he had with Lydia some years before. Local farmer Stanley Hawking, whose ten-year one-sided infatuation with Lydia nearly ruined him. Until he met Honororia Preece, with whom he had blissful relationship, until Honororia saw he and Lydia together in her studio.
Major Boddy knows that even if he uncovers the murderer, he’ll have a hard time persuading the police that she was murdered—unless he can solve the mystery of how someone managed to shoot Lydia from outside the studio and have the gun found near her body. Undeterred, the Major, with his vast knowledge of detective fiction and his batman Syd Gammon as his Watson, sets out on his investigation.
The characters are quirky, but the comedy derived from several of them—the guilt ridden vicar, the hulking farmer, and the lisping young woman— is more of the sad clown variety. The exceptions are Major Boddy and Syd, who together make an intelligent team of amateur sleuths. They with their long history and military bearing, make a very entertaining duo.
‘There’s something in this more than natural’, sir. Not mine, sir. Shakespeare’s.”
‘’Amlet, sir. Second act.’
‘’Ad away o’ putting things, sir.’
‘Very, Gammon, very.’”
The mystery of whodunit is fairly easy to figure out, while the “locked room” solution is much more complex, with a murder method that is highly ingenious. And, as always with Bude, it is all laced with just a little comedy.
My Judgment – 4/5
Prior Rulings – Kate @ Cross Examining Crime
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2013 – Scattergories: #9 A Calendar of Crime