Your audiobook is waiting…

Heads You Lose

The Inspector Cockrill Mysteries, Book 1
Narrated by: Derek Perkins
Length: 5 hrs and 56 mins
4 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Critic Reviews

"Christianna Brand is not merely a purveyor of thrills or a maker of puzzles. She is a novelist." (Daily Telegraph)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    15
  • 4 Stars
    17
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    3

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    22
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    12
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Anti-Semitism of the Era, Not the Author

Anti-Semitism was fashionable among Britain’s upper classes in the run-up to the Second World War; Churchill was a rare, notable exception. Many of the elite saw Hitler’s Reich as a useful bulwark against Stalin’s Soviet Republic, and therefore turned a blind eye to events like Kristallnacht. As such, using anti-Semitism (among other diverse elements) to define characters in a story of the period was a perfectly legitimate artistic choice.

Hence Grace Moreland, an unlovely and unlovable character (“fastidious, smug, self-righteous”). But her anti-Semitism is hers, not the author’s. That should be clear when, two chapters later, Venetia blames her Jewish husband, Henry Gold (whom she adores) for being “responsible for the war and Mussolini and the measles epidemic and the common cold and everything else that goes wrong with the world.” How can that be read as anything but mockery of the National Socialist worldview?

Later, when the lord of the manor thinks of Henry as a “wretched little Jew”, he’s under the stress of very plausible evidence (marshalled by Henry himself) that he may be the murderer—a natural enough knee-jerk reaction in the panic of self-defense. Further, it’s just one of many unjust critiques each man thinks of as they review their fellow suspects. As Brand writes, “the network of uneasy suspicion was about them once again”.

Instead of burning Christianna Brand’s books in the public square (a very National Socialist thing to do, by the way) I suggest we sit back and enjoy them—especially this one. It is a classic example of a classic Golden Age gambit, the Country House Murder, and as such an addictive blend of suspense and insight into our human condition—both serious and comic. Derek Perkins, whom I’ve only known as a reader of histories, does a superb job playing a wide range of male and female characters, giving each one such a distinctive voice that it’s easy to imagine what they look like, even without Brand’s fine descriptions.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story! Somewhat dated medical information.

The author has an intelligent and breezy style, and it was in interesting puzzle mystery. Some of the writer's assumptions about the murderer's psychiatric condition are definitely dated, but then it was written almost 80 years ago. This is part of the interesting thing about reading contemporary fiction - it is fiction of it's time, not historical fiction. I will definitely seek out other mysteries by this Golden Age mystery writer.

Derek Perkins read the story well, though his characterizations weren't as sharply defined as I would have liked. He understood that the way people spoke in the 1940s is not the same as the present day.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Did not like!

Wow- a particularly awful book. I can't believe I listened all the way to the (exceedingly unsatisfactory) end! My opinion is that it was anti-Semitic- adding to its woes.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Bored to tears

I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. I listen to books while driving, and nearly fell asleep in the first 2 chapters.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful