Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Death and the Joyful Woman

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Death and the Joyful Woman (1961) Ellis Peters (The Felse Investigations)

Death and the Joyful Woman

(T)hat was the sign – The Joyful Woman. Lovely, isn’t it? Goes right back to about 1600.

Detective-Sergeant George Felse of the county CID is called back to the pub whose opening he’d attended just hours earlier, when the owner–businessman Alfred Armiger–is found dead, with his head bashed in.

But the case becomes complicated when Felse’s son Dominic becomes involved, having fallen in love the way only a 16-year-old boy can, with the young heiress who might be suspected of the murder.

This was published in 1961, and there are so very many things that were normal at the time but are almost surreal now.

She set an open box of cigarettes and a heavy glass ash-tray on the edge of the desk midway between them.

And then there’s this, which in a way is even odder.

George had already observed that no telephone wires approached the house, and that there was a telephone box only fifty yards away at the corner of the road.

How many people do I know who no longer have a telephone line coming into their house? So very many.

Also, they can test for blood type but not get a complete match, which is so strange to think about, although sixty years before that, they wouldn’t have been able to test for certain that it was blood.

Also, towards the end of the story one of the characters suffers a blow to the head / concussion, and fascinatingly, they keep the person in bed for a couple of days.

I didn’t love this quite as much as the Brother Cadfael books, but it’s a police procedural, and things were very different then.

Joe was well known in the seedier outer districts of Comerbourne, where he made regular rounds with his pony-cart, collecting rags and scrap, and a good many residents automatically saved their cast-off clothes for him. It was worth making regular use of him, because he would take away for you all kinds of awkward and unmarketable rubbish on which the Cleansing Department tended to frown if it was put out for their attentions.

Of course, I already have the next book ready to read.

Publisher: Road
Rating: 7/10


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