Murder in the Mill-Race by E.C.R. Lorac

Sister Monica was many things.  The Warden of Gramarye Children’s Home, she took in and trained delinquent young women as domestics, she collected vast amounts of money for the village charities. According to everyone in the village of Milham on the Moor she was a saint. So why did someone bash her in the back of the head and throw her into the mill-race?

This is the first E. C. R. Lorac that I read, and I loved it!. The plot and the setting were great examples of the Golden Age of Detection. A small isolated village, interesting interpersonal dynamics, and a woman, whom no-one would admit to disliking, murdered. Everything I look for in a good mystery.

I found the writing to be solid. The plot was very intriguing, with enough diversions to keep you guessing (what would lead someone to murder such a wonderful woman, why does everyone insist it was an accident?). Also, the vivid descriptive quality of the writing is quite evocative. One could almost feel the warm summer air, smell the honeysuckle, or see as Hannah’s fingers “clawed at Macdonald’s sleeve” as “she screamed herself to exhaustion.” It is the use of this that allows Lorac to build the tension in this story.

It is filled with entertaining, intelligent, witty dialogue (Anne Ferens looked at him thoughtfully. “You’re a bit shattering aren’t you…sitting there making daisy chains.”). All of the characters were interesting in one way or another. The relationship between Macdonald and Reeves, as well as their banter, was extremely diverting, as was that of the Ferens, and Hannah Barrow made quite a sad and compelling character. 

This is a thoroughly interesting, and entertaining mystery! I highly recommend it, and I for one can’t wait to read more by this author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the advance reader copy made available for my review.

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