Gladys Mitchell Bibliography Website

Mary Wimbush stars as unconventional psychoanalyst sleuth Mrs Bradley in these two full-cast dramatisations of stories by Gladys Mitchell. Colourful, cynical, intimidating and extremely intelligent, Mrs Bradley is one of the most unorthodox detectives in the history of Golden Age crime fiction. The heroine of 66 novels by Gladys Mitchell, she has also appeared in several radio adaptations and a BBC TV series starring Diana Rigg.

In these two dramas, she puts her extraordinary mind to work investigating cases of disguise, dismemberment, mayhem and murder. In Speedy Death, a country house in the 1920s is rocked by a murder which takes place in a room which is first locked, then later unlocked. A startling secret is uncovered, and as fingers point and the suspects begin to turn on each other, another death occurs… The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop sees Mrs Bradley probing some alarming events in the village of Wandles Parva, as Rupert Sethleigh goes missing and a headless body is found jointed in the butcher’s shop.

These entertaining dramatisations, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1990 and 1991, star Mary Wimbush as Mrs Bradley, with Leslie Phillips as Carstairs.

Classic Radio Crime: presenting vintage detectives for your investigation!

Duration: 2 hours 55 mins approx.


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Gladys Mitchell & Beatrice Bradley Mysteries


Gladys Mitchell (1901 – 1983) was an English author best known for her creation of Mrs. Bradley, the heroine of 66 detective novels. She also wrote under the pseudonyms Stephen Hockaby and Malcolm Torrie. Feted during her life (called “the Great Gladys” by Philip Larkin), her work was largely neglected for the two decades after her death.

Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell was born in Cowley, Oxford on 19 April 1901 to James, a market gardener of Scottish parentage, and Annie. She was educated at Rothschild School, Brentford and The Green School. From 1919 to 1921 she attended Goldsmiths College and University College London.

Upon her graduation Mitchell became a teacher of history, English and games at St Paul’s School, Brentford until 1925. She then taught at St Anne’s Senior Girls School, Ealing until 1939. In 1926 she obtained an external diploma in European History from University College and she then began to write novels while continuing to teach. In 1941 she joined Brentford School for Girls where she stayed until 1950. After a three-year break from teaching she took a job at Matthew Arnold School, Staines, where she taught English and history, coached hurdling and wrote the annual school play until her retirement to Corfe Mullen, Dorset in 1961. She continued to write until her death in 1983.

She was a member of the Middlesex Education Association, the British Olympic Association, the Crime Writers’ Association, PEN and the Society of Authors. Her hobbies included architecture and writing poetry. She studied the works of Sigmund Freud and her interest in witchcraft was encouraged by her friend the detective novelist Helen Simpson. Mitchell never married.

Mitchell wrote at least one novel a year throughout her career. Her first novel (Speedy Death, 1929) introduced Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, a polymathic psychoanalyst and author who was featured in a further 65 novels. Her strong views on social and philosophical issues reflected those of her author and her assistant, Laura Menzies; they appear to have been something of a self-portrait of the young Mitchell.

Mitchell was an early member of the Detection Club along with G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers and throughout the 1930s was considered to be one of the “Big Three women detective writers”, but she often challenged and mocked the conventions of the genre – notably in her earliest books, such as the first novel Speedy Death, where there is a particularly surprising twist to the plot, or her parodies of Christie in The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929) and The Saltmarsh Murders (1932). Her plots and settings were unconventional with Freudian psychology, witchcraft (notably in The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935) and The Worsted Viper (1943) and the supernatural (Naiads and Nessie, Ghosts and Greek Gods) as recurrent themes.

In addition to her 66 Mrs. Bradley novels Mitchell also used the pseudonyms of Stephen Hockaby (for a series of historical novels) and Malcolm Torrie (for a series of detective stories featuring an architect named Timothy Herring) and wrote ten children’s books under her own name.

After her death Mitchell’s work was neglected although three posthumously published novels sold well in the 1980s. Radio adaptations were made (by Elizabeth Proud) of Speedy Death (1990) and The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1991) both with Mary Wimbush as Mrs Bradley and broadcast on BBC Radio 4; both adaptations were very faithful to the original books. A BBC television series, The Mrs Bradley Mysteries (starring Diana Rigg) was produced in 1999; however, the characteristic cackle and crocodilian looks were absent, and the plots and characters were changed. By the mid 1990s, only one of her novels was in regular print: a Virago Press paperback edition of The Rising of the Moon (1945) – which is still in print. Something of a renaissance began in 2005 with the publication of a collection of hitherto unpublished short stories, Sleuth’s Alchemy, by Crippen and Landru, and in the same year Minnow Press published a new edition of her rare 1940 novel Brazen Tongue. Others editions gradually followed, with various titles now available in paperback, and all of her Mrs. Bradley titles now published in ebook editions.

Although critical opinion is divided on what is her best work, her strengths and style can be gleaned from the following 16 books: The Saltmarsh Murders (1932), Death at the Opera (1934), The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935), Come Away, Death (1937), Brazen Tongue (1940), When Last I Died (1941), The Rising of the Moon (1945), Death and the Maiden (1947), The Dancing Druids (1948), Tom Brown’s Body (1949), Groaning Spinney (1950), The Echoing Strangers (1952), Merlin’s Furlong (1953), Dance to Your Daddy (1969), Nest of Vipers (1979), and The Greenstone Griffins (1983). 

Edited from Wikipedia: Gladys Mitchell

More on Gladys Mitchell  WikiGadetection

More on Mrs. Beatrice Bradley

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website

The Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site is a fantastic resource with additional detailed reviews of almost all of Mitchell’s books. A wealth of information for Gladys Mitchell fans. Pages of interest include:

IntroductionBiographyBibliographyEssaysLinksShort Stories


Mrs. Beatrice Bradley  Novels


Speedy Death (1929)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: Introducing Mrs. Bradley

Guests have gathered to dine at Alastair Bing’s elegant country manor, but only one guest—a murderer—is aware of the dead body in an upstairs bathtub. With renowned explorer Mr. Everard Mountjoy noticeably absent from the dining table, the rest of the party searches for him, and soon discovers the explorer’s drowned corpse. The murder is mystifying, not in the least because the body in the bath is clearly a woman’s! As danger and theories unravel, psychoanalyst Mrs. Beatrice Lestrange Bradley observes and interprets all, from shrieks in the night to drowning attempts to poisoning. It’s clear that Mrs. Bradley has a basilisk eye for detail. But can she uncover a motive for murder?

Rediscover the notorious detective Mrs. Bradley in her original starring role. This definitive mystery is the first in Gladys Mitchell’s sixty-six book series featuring this most unusual and brilliant heroine.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929)

Available in paperback, ebook, and audible editions.
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Best Review
*****

Note: Rump roast or hamburger?

When Rupert Sethleigh’s body is found one morning, laid out in the village butcher’s shop but minus its head, the inhabitants of Wandles Parva aren’t particularly upset. Sethleigh was a blackmailing money lender and when Mrs. Bradley begins her investigation she finds no shortage of suspects. It soon transpires that most of the village seem to have been wandering about Manor Woods, home of the mysterious druidic stone on which Sethleigh’s blood is found splashed on the night he was murdered, but can she eliminate the red herrings and catch the real killer?

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


The Longer Bodies (1930)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: The Olympic standard!

At ninety, the screeching, still lively Great Aunt Puddequet devises a novel means to determine which of her young nephews stands worthy of her inheritance: she will award her fortune to the relative who shows the greatest promise on her homemade Olympics field. Assisted—and occasionally bullied—by the trainer, Kost, the five men of the family take up the sports of the discus throw, the long jump, and the shot put with competitive and varied results. Although no one is publicly pursuing the javelin toss, that sharp instrument nevertheless has a way of turning up on the field, the blade’s tip stained with blood each time. Mrs. Puddequet watches her relations’ training with great interest, though the old lady’s constant companion—a nervous young woman once promised her share of the inheritance—and only grandson (now surrounded by rivals to the estate) survey the scene with considerably less amusement.

The tournament gets thrown off-track once the body of a tenant and Little Longer villager is found on the training grounds. Specifically, the luckless man is tied (with gymnasium rope) to a mermaid statue and submerged in the small mere. Inspector Bloxham tries to make sense of the tableau, and soon has a second death to investigate. Irritated at these mortal intrusions, Mrs. Puddequet tries to chase the police away from her Olympics, but finds a psychiatrist named Bradley (who has taken an interest in the Longer bodies) less easy to deter. While the inspector jumps from one suspect to another, Mrs. Bradley uses logic and psychology to identify the murderer from among the hopeful athletes and inheritors.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


The Saltmarsh Murders (1932)

Available in paperback, ebook, and audible editions.
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Best Review
*****

Note: A complicated pregnancy!

Noel Wells, curate in the sleepy village of Saltmarsh, likes to spend his time dancing in the study with the vicar’s niece, until one day the vicar’s unpleasant wife discovers her unmarried housemaid is pregnant and trouble begins.

It is left to Noel to call for the help of sometime-detective and full-time psychoanalyst Mrs Bradley, who sets out on an unnervingly unorthodox investigation into the mysterious pregnancy, an investigation that also takes in a smuggler, the village lunatic, a missing corpse, a public pillory, an exhumation and, of course, a murderer.

Mrs. Bradley is easily one of the most memorable personalities in crime fiction and in this classic whodunit she proves that some English villages can be murderously peaceful.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Death at the Opera (1934)
AKA:Death in The Wet
Available in paperback, ebook, and audible editions.
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Best Review
*****

Note: Death & The Mikado

Hillmaston School has chosen The Mikado for their next school performance and, in recognition of her generous offer to finance the production, their meek and self-effacing arithmetic mistress is offered a key role. But when she disappears mid-way through the opening night performance and is later found dead, unconventional psychoanalyst Mrs Bradley is called in to investigate. To her surprise she soon discovers that the hapless teacher had quite a number of enemies – all with a motive for murder

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
*****

Note: An eccentric town!

The quaint, cozy village of Saxon Wall is hiding a dark, sinister reality. When fiction author Hannibal Jones retires to Saxon Wall in hopes of reinvigorating his writing career, he instead finds himself in the midst of an increasingly puzzling and dangerous situation. Eccentric villagers and stories of curses, demons, and blood sacrifices abound. A devastating drought and imposing vicar escalate the pervasive fear until Hannibal Jones feels compelled to call in his good friend and detective, Mrs. Beatrice Lestrange Bradley. An alarming tale of a missing baby and suspicious deaths comes to light. And soon Bradley and Jones are at the center of a mystery wrought with conspiracy, murder…and witchcraft.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Dead Men’s Morris (1936)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: Christmas on a pig farm?

Bearing a gift of a stuffed boar’s head, Mrs. Beatrice Lestrange Bradley descends upon her nephew Carey Lestrange’s Oxfordshire pig farm for the holidays. The house is a lively one: in addition to Mrs. Bradley’s grandnephew Denis and chauffeur George, country life is well maintained by Mrs. Ditch, whose husband and sons are hearty practitioners of the morris dance. News travels that a neighboring solicitor has received a note with money challenging the man to attend a ghost-watch for the appearance of a local legend. The unfortunate lawyer accepts the terms, and meets his fate along the riverside, presumably dead of a heart attack.

Foul play—if any there be, argues the unconvinced country inspector—may have been instigated by a quarrelsome pig farmer named Simith, who had a standing feud with the solicitor. The suspect, however, meets his end shortly thereafter; apparently, it is death-by-boar. Such colorful demises intrigue the old psychoanalyst, and Mrs. Bradley begins investigating in earnest, uncovering hidden motives, secret passages, defaced churches, and murderous intent in a series of pig book entries. As the winter gives way to spring, Mrs. Bradley grows increasingly concerned that the killer may strike again, and this time much too close to the Lestrange farm.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Come Away Death (1937)

Available in paperback, ebook, and audible editions.
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Best Review
*****

Note: A Greek reenactment turns deadly!

All his children agreed that Sir Rudri Hopkinson was a most unaccountable man; and when he had yet another of his crack-brained ideas and decided to find out what the Mysteries at Eleusis really were, they thought the expedition would be a ‘fearful rag.’ With the help of his elder son Gelert, a far sounder if less imaginative archaeologist than Sir Rudri himself, and his hot-tempered rival Alexander Currie, he planned to re-enact the ritual practiced by the ancient Greeks at Eleusis, Epidaurus, and Mycenae. As his wife said to Mrs. Bradley, “If they were going to do a bit of honest digging, I shouldn’t worry so much. It’s all this classical philandering that I find so tiresome and upsetting.” So Mrs. Bradley accompanied the expedition, ostensibly to keep an eye on the three little boys and two attractive young girls, but actually to watch Sir Rudri’s eccentric behavior, and it was no surprise to her to discover a human head in the box which had previously held the snakes representing the god Aesculapius.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


St. Peter’s Finger (1938)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: A dead schoolgirl!

Mrs. Beatrice Lestrange Bradley receives a visit from her barrister son, Ferdinand Lestrange, who brings with him a plea for help. The coastal convent and girls’ school of Saint Peter’s Finger reports that student Ursula Doyle has died under inexplicable circumstances. The poor girl was found in the filled tub of a guesthouse bathroom but the coroner discovers that she had died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Fearing public outcry at the suspicious death, the nuns ask the Home Office psychoanalyst to look into matters. Mrs. Bradley dutifully attends.

Arriving at the convent, the detective quickly learns that the flow of information runs differently here. Though the nuns don’t withhold facts, neither do they extend them. Part of the difficulty lay in the circumstances: although none can believe little Ursula capable of committing the cardinal sin of suicide, the possibility of murder occurring at St. Peter’s is particularly disagreeable. As facts continue to find against a ruling of accidental drowning, Mrs. Bradley is forced to start looking for a murderer.

A couple of outsiders fit nicely: the dead girl’s aunt, Mrs. Maslin, moved one step closer to seeing Ursula’s large inheritance bestowed to her own stepdaughter; Miss Bonnet, a visiting physical training mistress, certainly had the strength—and possibly a motive—for murder; and cousin Ulrica, an enigmatic girl with signs of religious mania, was the last person to see Ursula alive. Even simple-minded Sister Bridget, with affinities for a pet mouse and for starting fires, cannot be immediately ruled out. As a solution begins to form, Mrs. Bradley grows increasingly uneasy with the situation and warns the Mother Superior to take steps to avoid another crime. In so doing, the old sleuth will also have to act fast to preserve her own life.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Printer’s Error (1939)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: Anti-semetic book ignites murder!

The imminent publication in a limited edition of a scandalously anti-Semitic book—The Open Bellied Mountain—by the printing house of Saxant and Senss, finds the author of the inflammatory work—Fortinbras Carn—and his closest relatives receiving disturbing threatening letters; threats that soon have to be taken deadly seriously when the author’s wife is killed in mysterious circumstances.

Mrs. Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley is soon drawn into a mystery as bizarre and as baffling as any that she has ever encountered during her long and illustrious career. Ably assisted by her resolute and energetic nephew Carey, and by the young and enterprising solicitor to the author’s family, she finds herself battling Nazis, nudists and gun-toting motorcyclists in equal numbers; unmasking the reason behind a sudden craze for wearing false beards; and the origin of several dismembered human body parts, which begin to appear in a variety of increasingly peculiar locations. All before eventually arriving at the case’s unexpected and surreal climax.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Brazen Tongue (1940)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: Three stray corpses!

It is the early months of the Second World War, and the inhabitants of the provincial town of Willington are just coming to terms with the idea of petrol shortages, rationing, occasional air raid warnings, and the blackout. The last thing they expect is for three mysterious corpses to appear in their midst on the same gloomy night.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Hangman’s Curfew (1941)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
***

Note: A rather complicated tale!

Mrs. Bradley’s niece-by-courtesy, Gillian, is instructed to embark upon a walking holiday, as rehabilitation after a failed romance. Once alone, amidst the border castle, colourful heather, and wild moors of Northumberland, Gillian not only succeeds in forgetting all about her past love, but also manages to stumble across an intriguing mystery.

Mrs. Bradley finds herself drawn into the puzzle—but by chance or design, she cannot decide—and is forced to pit her considerable wits against as ruthless and unscrupulous an adversary as she has ever encountered.

Church ghosts; music hall mayhem; a repeated and perplexing case of strychnine poisoning; and—not forgetting—hidden treasure, are just some of the things with which Mrs. Bradley must contend, before a murderer can be finally brought to a long awaited justice.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


When Last I Died (1941)

Available in paperback, ebook, and audible editions.
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Best Review
*****

Note: Mitchell’s Best?

Mrs. Bradley can’t resist looking into an old case when she comes across the diary of an alleged murderess in this 1941 classic detective novel, often called the author’s best book.

It was quite by accident that Mrs. Bradley found the diary of a woman, now dead, who a few years earlier had been arrested, tried and acquitted of murdering a professional ghosthunter. Mrs. Bradley has dealt with murderers before, but she has always dealt with them as a professional psychiatrist—coolly, scientifically, almost flippantly. Now, however, the brilliant old lady is fiercely determined to bring a cruel and ruthless murderer to bay—even if she has to open up the grave of the woman most people think wrongfully escaped the gallows. It proves to be one of the most difficult cases in Mrs. Bradley’s career, even prompting our celebrated sleuth to take several wrong turns herself.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Laurels Are Poison (1942)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: Terror in a girl’s school

Mrs. Bradley, celebrated psychoanalyst, arrives at Cartaret women’s training college intending to fill a vacancy left by a house warden from the previous semester. The missing staff member, Miss Murchan, disappeared during the end-of-term dance and failed to surface again. Add to that the possibility that Miss Murchan may have witnessed, or even been involved in, the death of a young student earlier that year, and the warden’s abrupt absence from college begins to look very sinister indeed. Mrs. Bradley’s arrival is met with a rash of busy—and sometimes menacing—practical jokes: bathrooms are flooded, snakes are let loose in a classroom, clothing is savagely slashed, and one girl’s hair is cut off while she sleeps. Fortunately, the energetic new warden takes into her confidence the sub-warden, an intelligent young woman named Deborah Cloud, and a trio of colorful students: outgoing, outspoken Laura Menzies, future hairstylist Kitty Trevelyan, and shy but physically strong Alice Boorman. Together, the group combats the increasingly mischievous pranks, but even Mrs. Bradley is unable to anticipate the murder of the house cook: the woman’s body is found downstream in the nearby river, with her corsets floating separately among the weeds. It soon becomes clear that the Cartaret grounds contain a fugitive, but is this person the missing Miss Murchan? And if so, then whose bones were boiled in the abandoned quarry? And what of the rather suspiciously named Miss Cornflake, a new student who possesses the commanding presence of an experienced teacher? Mrs. Bradley keeps admirable track of all these details and more, disarming pistol-wielding mental patients and dodging murderous attackers while moving determinedly towards the mystery’s conclusion.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


The Worsted Viper (1943)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: Poison Pen Tales

Mrs. Bradley is not unaccustomed to receiving fan mail, but the anonymous letter that she opens one morning at breakfast has not been sent by a well-wisher. The letter evokes memories for Mrs. Bradley of a past criminal investigation, in which she had played a minor role in convicting a particularly unpleasant murderer and Satanist.

The letter, too, provides a link to a sudden spate of gruesome and ritualistic murders occurring in the normally tranquil surroundings of the Norfolk Broads and not for the first time, Mrs. Bradley finds herself drawn into a race to track down a killer.

Aided by her nephew Jonathan, and only occasionally hampered by her three former pupils—Laura, Kitty and Alice—Mrs. Bradley takes to the myriad waterways where she is pitted against a dark occultist sect, a deadly line in knitwear and a plot to dismantle an ancient monument, and where she finds herself the object of a long-harboured plan for revenge.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Sunset Over Soho (1943)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: An old body amongst the new corpses!

It’s the height of the Second World War, and Mrs. Bradley is working overtime as a doctor at a rest shelter for air raid casualties and displaced persons. With all the present mortality around them, the staff hardly needs another dead body, yet they find one in the form of a two-year old corpse, packed into a makeshift coffin and clothed in a now tattered dressing gown. The dead man’s identity and appearance in the shelter are a mystery; the coffin/crate wasn’t noticed in the basement room on the previous day. Mrs. Bradley realizes that the story really begins in the days before the war, and confides her tale to Detective Inspector Pirberry.

In a second plot line, David Harben, a young novelist and acquaintance of Mrs. Bradley, spends his summers writing and boating off England’s coast. One dark night a tap at the porthole window reveals a visitor to David’s tub: a beautiful woman whose first words to David are “I’ve killed him.” The boat is moored off the beach near some houses, and upon the woman’s request that David investigate, the writer enters the house and discovers the dead man on the floor. David returns to the boat, hours pass, and when they next visit the house, the body has disappeared. The mysterious woman then leaves David by taking his boat, and when David reclaims it down river, the woman is nowhere to be found. That’s when the attempts on David’s life begin. While David ponders these events, two Dominican nuns and their collection of five orphaned boys enter his life. Mrs. Bradley takes this extended family into her beach house, but during another investigation of the dead man’s house, David disappears. The sea recurs throughout this story, and Mrs. Bradley collects such clues as a secretive sailing flag, a talkative parrot, a water-filled cellar, sinister Spaniards, and stories of naval heroics and alluring water-nymphs, clues which help her (and perhaps only her) make sense of this tangled plot.

This plot is very complex and hard to follow. For more information see review at:

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


My Father Sleeps (1944)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: A mysterious tormentor!

Touring Scotland’s western Highlands is meant to be a romantic holiday for Ian and Catherine Menzies. But the winds shift when the limping, haunted figure of Hector Loudoun appears. The man begs for an audience and then regales them with a marvelous tale: after Hector refused another man’s offer to purchase his property, he was cursed by a terrible fall and tormented by a ghostly voice calling out for justice. The story seems unfounded, until Hector’s housekeeper suddenly goes missing…and the body of a stranger—stabbed in the back—is discovered by Ian’s sister and her traveling companion Mrs. Beatrice Lestrange Bradley. The psychoanalyst detective is no stranger to murder. She sets out to interview Hector, but instead unearths a whole new set of mysteries…and motives.

In this peculiar tale of clan lore and buried secrets, the indomitable Mrs. Bradley unravels a multifaceted mystery—piece by satisfying piece.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


The Rising of the Moon (1945)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
*****

Note: A new Jack the Ripper?

Could there be a Jack-the-Ripper copycat in the sleepy village of Brentford? Two women have been found brutally murdered, each under the light of a full moon. When a third mutilated body is identified, brothers Simon and Keith Innes discover that their brother Jack was mysteriously absent from their home on that last moonlit night. After Jack’s snob’s knife goes missing from his tool box, Simon and Keith have no choice but to investigate and clear his name. With the help of the peculiar amateur detective Mrs. Bradley, the brothers race to find answers…before the rising of another full moon.

The belovedly eccentric Mrs. Bradley and her ingenious sleuthing are sure to impress in this cleverly woven classic. You’ll never guess who lurks in the shadows—and why.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website 


Here Comes a Chopper (1946)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
*****

Note: A guest loses his head!

Roger Hoskyn and Dorothy Woodcote are spending their Easter weekend holiday on a walking tour of the English countryside. Toward day’s end, the pair find themselves still a long distance from a train station and decide to stop at Whiteledge, a country manor house, to ask directions. To their surprise, the butler ushers them in and leads them to bedrooms and baths, where the travellers are to wash and then join the house for dinner. Arriving at table, Roger and Dorothy are soon in the company of some interesting persons: they recognize Claudia Denbies, a striking redhead and a celebrated violinist, and master George Merrow, whose birthday the party is celebrating, as two of three horse riders who passed them that afternoon. Dorothy notices that the third rider, a tall, handsome man, is absent from the group, and an enquiry reveals that Mr. Harry Lingfield went out riding and has not yet returned. Dorothy also learns that her and Roger’s invitations were given by the superstitious and eccentric Lady Catherine Leith, who didn’t want Lingfield’s appearance to create thirteen at table. To Roger’s right sits an unsettling old lady named Mrs. Bradley, whose black eyes take in the details of all her dining companions.

Mr. Lingfield still hasn’t returned to Whiteledge by the following day, and Mrs. Bradley and the travellers, under the auspices of taking the dog for a walk, retrace the trail on which Dorothy and Roger saw the horse riders. The dog disappears into a copse, and its pursuers come across the naked and headless body of a man. It appears to be the body of the missing Mr. Lingfield, but there is some opposition to this theory, notably from Claudia Denbies, Lingfield’s lover. The corpse’s head is not found at the scene, and an inquest only seems to raise more questions. Mrs. Bradley has been acting as a consulting psychiatrist for someone in the house, but will not reveal her patient’s identity to the police. A Scottish train conductor testifies to seeing a decapitated body laying across the tracks. The inspector’s suspicion falls on Mrs. Denbies, but then who is responsible for three attempts on Roger’s life, and why? When a second beheading occurs, Mrs. Bradley steps in and offers a solution which incorporates archery, sculpture, second sight, seven and sixpence, the “mount of Venus,” tripwire, barbed wire, and a burned-out car in high-spirited—if not entirely believable—fashion.

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Death and the Maiden (1947)

Available in paperback, ebook, and audible editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water! 

When former banana-grower Edris Tidson hears of a possible sighting of a water-naiad he insists that his wife, her aunt Prissie and Prissie’s young ward Connie, travel with him to Winchester in search of the nymph. As tensions rise between Connie and Edris, Prissie invites part-time Freudian Mrs. Bradley to join them and unofficially observe Edris and his growing obsession. Then two young boys are found drowned and speculation mounts that the naiad is luring them to their deaths. Can Mrs. Bradley unravel the mysteries hidden within the river?

Best review a little too highly rated, perhaps?

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


The Dancing Druids (1948)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: Nine rocks & three missing men!

The nine rocks known as The Dancing Druids had become objects of mystery and suspicion in their locality, and were linked in people’s minds with the disappearances at nine-yearly intervals of three apparently harmless local men. There was also the smuggling mystery: it was known that valuable paintings and clever fakes were being smuggled abroad, but it was not until Mrs. Bradley, with her unerring acumen and the help of her attractive young secretary, Laura, deduced a connection between this trade and the disappearances, that the two mysteries were finally solved.

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Tom Brown’s Body (1949)

Available in paperback, ebook, and audible editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: The fate of a  rude teacher?

Gerald Conway was a junior master at Spey College. The Head considered him a reliable history specialist and a useful games coach, but his fellow masters thought him a rude and insufferably presumptuous young man and the boys called him a mean and treacherous beast. But, as Inspector Gavin said, “Public schoolboys don’t murder the staff.” Mrs. Bradley wasn’t so certain; at least she felt sure they knew more than they would say. The erudite Micklethwaite, for example, an expert in Judo, refused to speak of the abominable Conway who had accused him of cheating in the exam for the Divinity Prize. Mrs. Bradley had to use tact and guile and a bit of black magic to make boys and masters tell her the whole story.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Groaning Spinney (1950)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
****

Note: Christmas in The Cotswolds

Mrs. Bradley has decided to spend Christmas with her nephew Jonathan and his wife Deb at their home in the Cotswolds. Upon settling in, the psychiatrist soon hears the story of a local apparition: the ghost of a country parson, it is said, can sometimes be seen at night slung over the gate leading to a grouping of trees called Groaning Spinney. As neighbours and locals visit Jonathan with seasonal greetings (for he has inherited, with the purchase of the large house, the mantle of village squire), Mrs. Bradley learns that the ghostly vicar has been spotted that evening by two travellers. She also makes the acquaintance of Tiny Fullalove, a man to whom Mrs. Bradley takes an immediate dislike. She fares better with Tiny’s brother Bill, a capable countryman named Will North, and farmhand Ed Brown, who has a knack for befriending and taming wild animals, particularly birds.

After the holiday, various villagers begin to receive anonymous letters carrying accusations and insinuations against themselves and others. The first letters are handwritten, subsequent ones typed. Jonathan points out that their spiteful content usually springs from a kernel of truth; e.g., a note detailing an affair between Tiny and Deb seems to elaborate upon an unwelcome pass Tiny had made previously. In the midst of this, and after a particularly heavy snowfall, the body of Bill Fullalove is found, slumped over the woodland gate in a morbid imitation of the parson’s demise a century before.

As Mrs. Bradley theorizes upon the source of the poison pen letters, she makes the acquaintance of the Inspector assigned to the suspicious death and pesters him into exhuming the recently interred body. Another discovery reveals itself with the winter’s thaw: the body of a woman, housekeeper to the Fullaloves, is found on the hillside, where it was buried for weeks under deep snow. The finding of dog collars and leads stuck into a rabbit hole provides for Mrs. Bradley further proof of her theory, and as she gets into riding dress to accompany her nephew on a fox hunt, she sets a trap that will flush out the guilty party and run it to ground.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


The Devil’s Elbow (1951)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
***

Note: Murder on a coach tour!

Dan Jeffries’ job, as courier on a coach taking holiday-makers on a tour of Scotland, was fairly uneventful until, with the tour nearly over, one of the party was murdered. It was fortunate that the important facts preceding the crime had been faithfully recorded by Jeffries in letters to his fiancée, and even more fortunate that she should have been working for Mrs. Bradley.

Mrs. Bradley, as befits “the best woman detective in fiction”, was quickly on the scene, questioning and deducing, ferreting out the real facts behind this apparently motiveless crime. There was the question of the boat-trip undertaken by some members of the coach party, the nylons found in a caravan mattress, the jewels smuggled in a barrel of fish, and other seemingly irrelevant discoveries. But relevant they were, and Mrs. Bradley was soon well on the way to solving one of her most brilliant cases.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


The Echoing Strangers (1952)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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Best Review
*****

Note: A conspiracy to murder?

Most people overlooked the sullen deaf-mute teenager Francis Caux…until he led police to the scene of a murder. It was psychoanalyst and detective Mrs. Beatrice Lestrange Bradley who found a clever way to communicate with Francis, thus learning that his recent fear of water stemmed from a body chained to the underside of a boathouse dinghy. But how did Francis know the location of the body? Even more puzzling is the discovery of a second murder linked to another Caux teen, Derek, in a nearby village. Mrs. Bradley suspects that the teenage Caux boys are somehow related, and soon must consider the possibility that they are coconspirators…in murder.

Gladys Mitchell Tribute Website


Merlin’s Furlong (1953)

Available in paperback and ebook editions.
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