I’m a huge fan of Agatha Christie and English village whodunnits, so I expected to like this a lot more than I did. Murder in Little Shendon had all the usual elements of the genre: a murder victim who was widely disliked, a village full of suspects, and a likeable team of detectives both professional and amateur. One of the mystery-solving team is even an actor, and I’m a sucker for any theatre-related story. Even the manner of death is pretty good — the victim was killed by a candlestick in his own shop, and I thought the choice of weapon and the way characters referred to it were a nice shoutout to the classic whodunnit game Clue.
Richardson also avoids a lot of the usual problems that annoy me in contemporary Christie-type cozies. None of the characters are too cutesy for words, none of the leads are Mary Sue-level perfect, and none of the jokes were cringe-worthy. At one point, I even felt like I was watching an episode of Midsomer Murders, which I love.
Despite the promising beginning, I ended up getting bored about halfway through. The characters were all quirky without being particularly memorable. I found myself getting confused by the large cast, and found that while each had a strong personality trait, none particularly stood out for me. The pacing as well was slow, which is expected in this type of mystery, but it lacked a clear sense of the movement towards the big reveal.
Richardson is a good writer, so I’m hard-pressed to pinpoint exactly what went wrong for me with this book. I’m afraid it just didn’t work for me, despite its genre being right up my alley.
Murder in Little Shendon is the first in a series featuring Sir Victor Hazlitt and Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Below are the other books in the series.
Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.