At this stately home, now open for public tours, visitors revel in the lush atmosphere created by its three hundred rooms, its exceptional display of fine china, its chilling dungeon with historic suits of armor on display, evoking the spirits of knights from a forgotten age. Young Michael's sister, a visitor to the mansion with their mum, presses her for an explanation of "what's a chastity belt?" while Michael fools around with one of the suits of armor. He lifts the visor and stares inside, only to find a face staring back at him! A dead human body has been stashed inside the armor after having been done in by a savage blow to the back of the head. Detective Inspector C.D. Sloan and his wisecracking sidekick Crosby are called in to figure out whodunit and why.
Mystery fans will relish this delightful entry in Catherine Aird's highly esteemed classic series starring Sloan, of the Berebury Criminal Investigations Dept. in Calleshire, England, and his amiable but not very able assistant, Crosby. The two are introduced in The Religious Body, the first of 18 C.D. Sloan mysteries. Aird's work is among the very best of the British police procedural genre, particularly noteworthy for the delightful sense of humor woven throughout.
The Stately Home Murder was originally published as The Complete Steel.
©1973 Catherine Aird; (P)2000 Chivers Audio Books
If your 'bag' is English mystery, you don't have to look any further to find its pinnacle and if you enjoy sly humor; this book is the answer to your prayers. I'm not going to add much to the well-done summary except to say that the narrator absolutely makes this book.
Having suffered through narrators that read in a dismal monotone, or mispronounce key worlds throughout ('Galileo' is pronounced Gali LAY-O; NOT Gali LEE-O), I can say without reservation that this man is an absolute delight. His British accents are flawless, everyone sounds different and he reads asides and parenthetical comments as they should be read.
Listen to this book! Trust me, you won't regret it!
There's an old cliche about actor's voices - that those with the best voices could read names from the phone book and still hold listeners entranced. For me, that's the case wth the reader of this book, Robin Bailey. His command of voices, his inflexions, his emotions, are all masterful.
Catherine Aird's plots don't really keep people on the edge of their seat. It's not a suspense book, it's a "cozy" mystery. The plot was intriguing and I loved the description of the "stately home" and the "armor." (Note that The Cold Steel is actually the same book with a different title, by the way.)
The book is leisurely paced, with Detective Sloan's thoughts carrying on in a strea-of-consciousness way, as with all Aird's books. They may be turned "slow" but I think they're fun.
I first saw Robin Bailey in Mystery's Charters and Caldicott 20 years ago. Over the past five or six years I've made a special point of collecting all of his audio performances. (Except Ruth Rendell. Even for the sake of hearing Bailey's voice, I don't care for Ruth Rendell). My favorite of the books he narrates is actually The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
This is a mystery story, not a romance, so I'd have to say.... no.
If you're not sure what a fiction book on tape should sound like (as far as the narrator is concerned) - get any of Robin Bailey's narrations. (Yes, probably even the Ruth Rendell books). They'll set the standard for you.
As for Catherine Aird, I suppose I like the books as much as I do more because of Bailey's performance of them. in print, they are definitely "light" reading. The mysteries dont' seem to be fair play to me. But they are fun.
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