In the second book in the Nigel Strangeways classic crime series, the poet turned private detective is called in to help a World War One fighter pilot who has been receiving death threats.
Fergus O'Brien, a legendary World War One flying ace with several skeletons hidden in his closet, receives a series of mocking letters predicting that he will be murdered on Boxing Day. Undaunted, O'Brien throws a Christmas party, inviting everyone who could be suspected of making the threats, along with private detective Nigel Strangeways. But despite Nigel's presence, the former pilot is found dead, just as predicted, and Nigel is left to aid the local police in their investigation while trying to ignore his growing attraction to one of the other guests - and suspects - explorer Georgina Cavendish.
Thou Shell of Death is a dazzlingly complex and addictive listen, laced with literary allusions, from a master of detective fiction.
Nicholas Blake was the pseudonym of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, who was born in County Laois, Ireland in 1904. After his mother died in 1906, he was brought up in London by his father, spending summer holidays with relatives in Wexford. He was educated at Sherborne School and Wadham College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1927. Blake initially worked as a teacher to supplement his income from his poetry writing and he published his first Nigel Strangeways novel, A Question of Proof, in 1935. Blake went on to write a further 19 crime novels, all but four of which featured Nigel Strangeways, as well as numerous poetry collections and translations.
During the Second World War he worked as a publications editor in the Ministry of Information, which he used as the basis for the Ministry of Morale in Minute for Murder, and after the war he joined the publishers Chatto & Windus as an editor and director. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1968 and died in 1972 at the home of his friend, the writer Kingsley Amis.
©2012 Nicholas Blake (P)2012 Audible Ltd
"It has all the virtues of culture, intelligence and sensibility that the most exacting connoisseur could ask of detective fiction." (Times Literary Supplement)
"A master of detective fiction." (Daily Telegraph)
"The Nicholas Blake books are something quite by themselves in English detective fiction." (Elizabeth Bowen)
A decent country-house mystery, written by the poet Cecil Day-Lewis under his Blake pseudonym, but sadly almost ruined by the reader. Dyer's accents are heavy-handed, but it's the Shatner-like inappropriate breath-breaks that really make this a tough listen.
It's not the best of the Nicholas Blake books and you'll solve the mystery early on—but that's not so bad, makes a person feel clever to know the truth before the sleuths do. I hope the publisher continues to produce Blakes, but with a new reader please.
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