Hill, Reginald. An April Shroud.

Woodstock, VT: Countryman Press, 1975.

Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel of Mid-Yorkshire CID (pronounced “Dee-ell” — I think) is a large, sloppy-looking person — his recent diet has gotten him down to 250 pounds — but he has a brain that can spot a motive or a specious excuse a furlong away.

His right-hand, the recently promoted DI Peter Pascoe, is off on his honeymoon and Dalziel, having just departed the wedding down in Oxfordshire, is trying to take everyone’s advice by going off on a relaxing little holiday of his own.

It’s been raining a lot, though, and his old car floods out, so he has to make his way (by punt) to refuge at a nearby country estate that has seen far better days. There’s just been what seems to be an accidental death of the master of the house, though the widow doesn’t seem to be taking it too hard. She just keeps working, along with her son, daughter, and a few of their friends and investors on renovating one of the out-buildings as a “Medieval Banqueting Hall,” with an eye to the tourist dollar.

Dalziel finds himself becoming involved, even though it’s not his patch and he’s not even on duty, and the local CID isn’t thrilled to have him stirring things up. And various of the estate’s residents, both family and employees, are acting suspiciously. Maybe that death wasn’t an accident after all. And maybe Dalziel ought not to get too personally involved with the widow.

This isn’t a bad story, though it sort of reeks of the 1970s in many ways and follows many of the tropes common to classic “country house” mysteries — though with a decidedly plebian twist.

Published in: on 6 February 2016 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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