Murder of a Lady

Title: Murder of a Lady

Writer: Anthony Wynne

Publishing House: British Library Crime Classics

Date of Publication: January 4th 2016 (first published 1931)

Rating: 5 stars

”Autumn was dressing herself in her scarlets and saffrons; already the air held that magical quality of light which belongs only to diminishing days and which seems to be of the same texture as the colours it illuminates. He marked the fans of the chestnuts across the burn, place gold and pale green. The small coin of birch leaves a-jingle in the wind, right as the sequins on a girl’s dress, the beeches and oakes, wine-stained from the winds’ Bacchanal, the rowans, flushed with their fruiting.”

The sister of the laird of Duchlan is found murdered in her chamber. The door is locked, the windows are barred. The woman was supposed to be respected and loved by all. Who would possibly want to kill her?

But as Dr. Hailey and the police investigate the murder, secrets about her true character are unearthed, secrets of a tyrannical woman who led an entire family to destruction with bitterness and hatred.

One of the finest locked-room mysteries you’ll ever read, this is a fascinating, atmospheric novel about cruel deaths, but most importantly, about the misery inflicted on two mothers because of the cruelty of a miserable woman and the weakness of a man. It is a story about the hypocrisy and empty decorum of the ”prominent” families, on the need to control lest tradition is abandoned. God forbid!

The enigmas of the case are seamlessly married to echoes of Scottish folklore and the convictions of the locals, while excellent characters jump off the pages. Dr. Hailey, Dr. McDonald, Eoghan and Oonagh, my absolute favourite.

A perfect mystery for an autumnal evening, beautifully introduced by Martin Edwards.

”We Highland folk,” he said in low tones, ”partake of the spirit of our hills and lochs. That’s the secret of what the Lowlanders, who will never understand us, call our pride. Yes, we have pride; but the pride of blood, of family; of our dear land. Highlanders are ready to die for their pride.”