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Publisher's Summary

Horniman, Birley and Craine is a highly respected legal firm with clients reaching to the highest in the land. When a deed box in the office is opened to reveal a corpse, the threat of scandal promises to wreak havoc on the firm's reputation - especially as the murder looks like an inside job. The partners and staff of the firm keep a watchful and suspicious eye on their colleagues, as Inspector Hazlerigg sets out to solve the mystery of who Mr Smallbone was - and why he had to die. Written with style, pace and wit, this is a masterpiece by one of the finest writers of traditional British crime novels since the Second World War.

©1939 Michael Gilbert (P)2019 Soundings

What listeners say about Smallbone Deceased

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Pretty Much Perfect

In the midst of so many riches, I don’t know what to praise first. The characters—even the minor ones, like the night watchman—live and breathe. The dialogue can make you laugh out loud. And the story—not just the whodunnit, but all the goings-on in and out of the law firm around which the story revolves—keeps you entertained right up to the end. I was completely drawn into the world that all these finely rendered elements created. No doubt, David Thorpe’s sterling performance helped me get there.

NOTE: For a far more erudite appreciation of Gilbert's life and work, especially this book, you can't do better than Martin Edwards' introduction. But do it after you finish the last chapter--he gives away too many surprises.

18 people found this helpful

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maybe better read add a book

I found this book very hard to get into. there are so many characters thrown at thre reader it is hard to keep them straight, especially since many of them make only brief appearances. there is really no main character. the murderer, when revealed, was underwhelming.

David Thoroe is the wrong narrator for this stay.

6 people found this helpful

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Truly remarkable find.

Published in 1950, this is one of the best English mysteries I’ve ever encountered. Having just finished The Thursday Murder Club, which is also brilliant, I have been searching for something similar. Touché!

Witty, well written and narrated, and a clever mystery make for a five star experience.

5 people found this helpful

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A whimsical delight

The story is very British, and the reader likewise is very British. You don’t have to be a bob or a dedicated Anglophile to appreciate and enjoy the book. The reader is fairly bursting with energy and enthusiasm. The characters are delightful. The story is a well-crafted mystery. I recommend it highly

5 people found this helpful

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great narrator

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, in large part because of the narrator. He brought the characters in the story to life. Highly recommend.

4 people found this helpful

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An enjoyable read

I found this an enjoyable and light hearted book to listen too. David Thorpe is my all time favorite narrator and does much to bring the book alive. Without his narration, I’m not certain if I would have enjoyed the book as much. The plot has a good pace to it and kept my interest with several interesting twists. I would recommend if you are looking for a good cozy mystery that focuses more on deductive reasoning and less of suspense and trills. I’ve listened to this multiple times as one watches their favorite old movie flicks over and over again :-)

3 people found this helpful

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Great story, almost great narrator

I enjoyed the story and the characters. They were entertaining and full of humor. David Thorpe is a pretty fantastic narrator, creative and flexible with voices and well paced. The only issue is that there are unnaturally long pauses at really odd times. Sometimes they come in the middle of a sentence, sometimes during dialogue. Not sure if editing could fix this, but still worth the listen.

3 people found this helpful

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I could listen to David Thorpe read the phone book

and love it. I'm not sure I followed this story but it was entertaining.

3 people found this helpful

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Highly entertaining, superlative narration

What makes this story so entertaining are the well developed, if a bit stereotypical, characters, their interactions, and the clearly delineated narration of David Thorpe. While the author gives the reader several red herrings, he also plants many clues which make it easy to figure out the plot rather earlier in the novel than he may have wished. Still, I enjoyed this novel very much and hope to try another by this same author soon.

1 person found this helpful

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Not engaging

Not sure if it was the narrator or the text, but o found this book overly full of detail, uninteresting characters and scenarios, and just under nteresting - narrator’s delivery was sprinkled with odd elongated pauses, otherwise fine.

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  • Sue Falcon
  • 03-20-21

Why the introduction as a sample, not the story?

I enjoyed this story. Twisty enough to concentrate on, not too complicated it put me off. I've been enjoying these re-issued old murder mystery novels. Some real gems. My only issue with these books is that when you try the sample you get a section from the introduction not the story. I need to know if the written style is one I can listen to, I'm not interested in someone else's opinion of the book. Puts me off dipping my toe into the unknown.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ligs
  • 07-30-20

Wrong Narrator in my view

I have to agree with a previous reviewer in that David Thorpe is the wrong narrator for this book. He is excellent at the voices, and has done excellent work in other books, but here in this story, everyone seems mildly hysterical, in the wrong places to me anyway...even the narrators voice is mildly sardonic which does not seem appropriate. The narrator spoiled this book for me, and took away much of the potential enjoyment. But well written and some lovely touches in the writing. But I will read in book form next time, if the same narrator is used for another of Michael Gilberts books..

2 people found this helpful

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  • Arnfinn Rong
  • 01-10-20

Good first meeting with RAYMOND CHANDLER'S LAWYER

So this is Michael Gilbert! Wonderful book! Great mystery, classy but snappy with a lot of pep and try wit. Good book! Good show!