Although it was first published in 1947, Gilbert began this novel in the years immediately before World War II and didn't finish it until he returned from active duty. Set behind the walls of the residential Close of Melchester Cathedral, it's a classic British mystery in which a young Scotland Yard detective is asked to interrupt his holiday to find out if the accidentalAlthough it was first published in 1947, Gilbert began this novel in the years immediately before World War II and didn't finish it until he returned from active duty. Set behind the walls of the residential Close of Melchester Cathedral, it's a classic British mystery in which a young Scotland Yard detective is asked to interrupt his holiday to find out if the accidental death of Canon Whyte was indeed an accident....
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Close Quarters Reviews
A wonderful older murder mystery published in 1947, the setting probably based on Salisbury Cathedral as the author was a schoolmaster in Salisbury when he wrote this first novel in 1938. It is atmospheric, intelligent, peopled with truly interesting members and residents of the Close. There are anonymous letters and a general campaign against the oldest canon of the Close, carefully executed by someone with enough malice that the concerned Dean invites his nephew Sargent Bobby Pollock who is attached to Scotland Yard for a visit. On the morning after Pollock's first night in Melchester a body is discovered, the victim of the smear campaign. Pollock calls in Chief Inspector Hazlerigg to assist in the investigation and before they can uncover the truth others will die.
There's trouble at Melchester cathedral, but fortunately the Dean has a young nephew who's at Scotland Yard. Who better to unofficially look into the anonymous letters that have attacked the senior verger? So Bobby Pollock comes to Melchester in time to meet the case of characters before the verger is found dead. Then Inspector Hazlerigg joins him, and they begin to interview the clerical company. There's a clue in a crossword puzzle, in clothing that's too wet and a hat that's too dry, and in a strange handwritten note. I've labeled this "historical" since it is set pre-World War II and written after the war.
The book is set in and around Melchester cathedral close. A year before the book opens the unfortunate Canon Whyte fell from the roof and was killed. His death seems to be casting a long shadow still. There has been a spate of anonymous letters sent to people living in the close and graffiti has been appearing on walls - casting aspersions on the quality of the head verger's work. Appledown is not popular but the Dean has no real complaints about the standard of the work. Then a murder takes place and Inspector Hazlerigg is called in from Scotland Yard to investigate. At first it seems as though there are just too many suspects and that everyone could be lying about something. But Hazlerigg is nothing is not persistent and the murderer is eventually tracked down. This is the first book I've read by Michael Gilbert and it won't be the last. I loved the descriptions of people and places and there is plenty of humour in the book I loved the episode in which a suspect is followed by one of Hazlerigg's team which reminded me of Bunter's efforts at following the murderer in Dorothy L Sayers' Have His Carcase. The end of the chase is priceless and one of the best scenes in the book. This book has stood the test of time extremely well and I recommend it to anyone who loves Golden Age crime fiction and to anyone who wants to try it for the first time.
I've started re-reading my Michael Gilbert set, and accidentally picked up his very first mystery. Close Quarters introduces us to Inspector Hazelrigg, one of Gilbert's recurring detectives. Set in the close of a cathedral community, the plot unfolds with poison pen letters and escalating pranks. When murder occurs, the Dean's nephew, a Scotland Yard man, sends for the big guns, and Hazelrigg arrives to hunt for the murderer. Gilbert draws his characters with a specific and wry pen. Jealousies, friendships, and villainy are exposed. There are, of course, red herrings and false leads galore. This is a variation on a "locked room" mystery, with the walls of the close serving as the barrier that keeps the number of suspects strictly limited. This classic mystery from a British master makes the journey very enjoyable.
I enjoyed this very much. It's one of my first Michael Gilbert mysteries. It was a slowish, procedural-type police mystery, but gradually, it began to twist and turn nicely. Inspector Hazelrigg was an excellent police inspector with an intelligence and ability to work his way through the crime. I also liked the peripheral characters and how they contributed to the plot and investigation. Nice conclusion, very interesting.
First book by Michael Gilbert, and while it isn't as clean and fluid as others it is still a great mystery. Hazelrigg is featured more in this book than in following ones. While reading this, I realized that I have seen at least two adaptations of this on English Mystery Programs. The book though, was still more tense at times.
A classic "murder in the cathedral close"; very well done.
A Scotland Yard detective is forced to end his holiday early to discover whether a death was accidental or not.
An atmospheric mystery which pays homage to the golden age. More here:http://inkquilletc.blogspot.in/2017/1...