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Publisher's Summary

Pigeonsford Estate is playing host to a group of close friends when one of their number, Grace Morland, is found dead in a ditch. The murder is made even more unusual by the fact that Grace was wearing her friend Francesca's hat, the same hat that only the day before she'd claimed she wouldn't be caught dead wearing. Inspector Cockrill has known most of the friends since they were children. They are all from good families and very close to one another; how, then, could one of them be a cold-blooded killer? And if one of them had murdered Grace which one was it and why had they done it?

First published in 1941, Heads You Lose is a classic country house mystery that proves that in every friendship there are secrets, some of which are best left buried.

©2013 Open Road Integrated Media (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

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

What listeners say about Heads You Lose

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.