Sir Rudri Hopkinson, an eccentric amateur archaeologist, is determined to recreate ancient rituals at the temple of Eleusis in Greece in the hope of summoning the goddess Demeter. He gathers together a motley collection of people to assist in the experiment, including a rival scholar, a handsome but cruel photographer and a trio of mischievous children. But when one of the groups disappears, and a severed head turns up in a box of snakes, Mrs Bradley is called upon to investigate.
©1937 Estate of Gladys Mitchell (P)2012 Soundings
Early adopter, longtime listener, bookhungry.
Gladys Mitchell's books are always tempting—the synopsis sounds promising, Patience Tomlinson is a lovely narrator—but always a baffling disappointment. Mitchell's heroine, Mrs Bradley, is an unsatisfying detective whose methods are opaque and whose psychology is suspect, as well as extremely outdated. I've fallen for three of these books now and come out of every one irritated. The convoluted mystery plot unravels at a lame snail's pace, the cast is overlarge and undifferentiated, the main characters are dolts, and the entire proceedings are remarkably humorless. Never again, Mitchell, never again.
If you liked other Mrs Bradley mysteries, you should like this one. But if you don't pay careful attention to everything going on, you might think that it is a travel log with a little mystery at the end. Gladys Mitchell includes the necessary information to solve the mystery, but she has hidden it in a wealth of detail. I enjoyed it very much, especially Patience Tomlinson's reading of it.
"Something a bit different"
I love the Gladys Mitchell books. They satisfy my love of a detective story but are different from the usual types. They don't always start with a death followed by the detective solving the crime. Things happen as the story goes along. I would recommend these to anyone who likes a good yarn.
"Not her best work"
Set out in Greece, both the characters and the endless allusions to Classical Greek culture and sites became tiresome. If you've an atlas and a glossary, you may find this easier going. This is a pity because the author can produce wonderful plots.
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