Read Heads You Lose by Christianna Brand Online


Pigeonsford Estate is playing host to a group of close friends when one of their number, Grace Morland, is found dead in a ditch. The murder is made even more unusual by the fact that Grace was wearing her friend Francesca's hat, the same hat that only the day before she'd claimed she wouldn't be caught dead wearing. Inspector Cockrill has known most of the friends since tPigeonsford Estate is playing host to a group of close friends when one of their number, Grace Morland, is found dead in a ditch. The murder is made even more unusual by the fact that Grace was wearing her friend Francesca's hat, the same hat that only the day before she'd claimed she wouldn't be caught dead wearing. Inspector Cockrill has known most of the friends since they were children. They are all from good families and very close to one another; how, then, could one of them be a cold-blooded killer? And if one of them had murdered Grace which one was it and why had they done it? First published in 1941, Heads You Lose is a classic country house mystery that proves that in every friendship there are secrets, some of which are best left buried.Listening Length: 5 hours and 56 minutes...

Title : Heads You Lose
Author :
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ISBN : 9780553272208
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 0 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Heads You Lose Reviews

  • Carol Clouds ꧁꧂
    2019-02-07 21:06

    3.5★I'll start by saying I prefer reading uncensored. If a few offensive words or expressions are edited out, who knows what else could be changed?But Brand's first anti-Semitic comment (yes, there was more than one) was tossed out so casually. For me this made it all the more shocking. This may explain why Brand's adult books are now so hard to find.Before the book begins we are given a character list, which finishes with;Among these very ordinary people were found two victims and a murderer. Kind of fun having clearly defined parameters, but the story goes off the boil at the end, because the author (view spoiler)[ decides to give everyone a turn at being Chief Suspect. This manages to become both tortuous and boring for this reader. & I was disappointed that Fran wasn't one of the victims. Even though this book was written in 1941, both Fran & her slightly less annoying sister Venetia were written as Bright Young Things & Fran came across more as a Spoilt Brat - in particular her behaviour at the inquest. Were we meant to find that appealing? Or even understandable?Seriously??? (hide spoiler)]An easy quick read and interesting as a depiction of life in wartime Britain. I enjoyed enough to search out Brand's best known adult book, Green for DangerEdit; 18/8/17 Just to clarify (after discussion with other members of the Reading the Detectives Group )Brand has her characters think or say racist things. This doesn't mean Brand herself is racist. I guess this has parallels with the recent The Black Witch controversy.

  • Susan
    2019-02-16 21:02

    Any Christianna Brand re-issue will be welcomed by me and it is wonderful to see her books appearing on kindle. Best known for her series of Nurse Matilda childrens books, she also wrote many excellent crime novels. This is the first Inspector Cockrill book and, as so often in Golden Age Detective stories, we are in the familiar territory of the house party. Set during WWII, Stephen Pendock is the Squire of the local village. Staying with him are Lady Hart, a friend of the family, her granddaughters Francesca and Venetia, Henry Gold (Venetia's husband) and James Nicholl (Fran's suitor). Their neighbour, Grace Morland, also has a visitor - Pippi Le May - and two servants also enter the plot: faithful Trotty, Grace's maid, and Bunsen, Pendock's butler.At the very beginning we are told that from amongst these people will be found two victims and a murderer. Indeed, shortly after the story begins, one of the members of the party are found horribly decapitated and it seems that someone from among the group must be the murderer. Suspicion and jealousy follow this outrage, as Cockrill finds his task hampered by the bonds which tie his alleged suspects. Other books featuring Inspector Cockrill are:Heads You Lose (1941)Green for Danger (1944)Suddenly at His Residence (1946) (aka The Crooked Wreath)Death of Jezebel (1948)London Particular (1952) (aka Fog of Doubt)Tour De Force (1955)The Three Cornered Halo (1957)The Spotted Cat and Other Mysteries from Inspector Cockrill's Casebook (2002)Green for Danger is probably the most famous of Brand's crime novels, made into a movie featuring Alistair Sim. However, if, like me, you prefer to read a series in order then you will want to read this first. It is fair to say that some of Brand's work has not aged well and there is a distinct lack of political correctness there that will jar with modern readers. However, if you enjoy Golden Age Detective fiction, you will undoubtedly be able to overlook these modern sensibilities and enjoy the story for what it is and when it was written.

  • Nancy
    2019-02-17 17:07

    The anti-Semitism was bad, the classism worse, but both were of the period. It was the mystery itself, trite and overwrought, with red herrings screaming "Look at me!", that was unforgivable.

  • Jan C
    2019-01-25 21:11

    Finally read my first Inspector Cockrill story. (********** this computer)I've long loved the movie of Green for Danger ( and had that book on my shelf for several years. But was having trouble getting into it. Then the books started coming out on Kindle.Finally got pushed into reading this one (a buddy read) and I really enjoyed it. The murders were a little grisly. Love the part where they are at the inquest and the coroner is going over the injuries and various members of the jury have to excuse themselves to go lose their lunch.Pendock has several people visiting, an old lady, her two granddaughters, a husband of one of them and another friend, and a lady from across the way finagles her way into the house to paint a picture that she has only painted like a thousand times already. And she stays so long that they just have to invite her to tea. One of the girls gets a new hat, which is apparently on the silly side and Pendock gets a kiss from him. The painter is a bit of a spinster and has dreams of wedding Pendock (almost everyone seems to) and gets all bent out of shape. She makes a snide comment that she would rather be caught dead in a ditch than wear a hat like that. Guess where she spends the night?Can't wait to read the other books in the series. There are eight of them.

  • Leslie
    2019-01-22 20:22

    3.5* I enjoyed this first Inspector Cockrill mystery, which was a quick read. It wasn't as good as the only other one I have read, Green For Danger; I think Cockrill being friends with the suspects hampered things a bit.

  • Ivonne Rovira
    2019-02-02 17:15

    I owe Martin Edwards, solicitor, writer and editor, a debt of gratitude. Without his anthology, The Long Arm of the Law: Classic Police Stories, I should never have heard of British author Christianna Brand or of her clever creation, Inspector Cockerill. He so charmed me with his mocking deflation of a retired police blowhard in “After the Event” that I simply had to have more Cockerill. Heads You Lose’s release in 1941 marked the first appearance of Inspector Cockerill. The gruff but clever and fair policeman is a fine addition to the cozy cop genre; however, the casual anti-Semitism (so widespread at the time) and the utterly ridiculous ending will put off quite a few readers. Yet, due to such an attractive main character, I’ll be trying the second novel in the series, Green for Danger, though, before I give up for good.

  • Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
    2019-01-21 15:56

    An enjoyable read. I first heard of Brand when reading the wartime diaries of Nella Last, who read her books with great pleasure. Last had to keep such books from her husband Will, or read them aloud "editing" as she went, as anything violent or unpleasant upset him. It's a safe bet, then, that she kept this one to herself.What appears at first to be the classic house-party murder is rather darker than the run of Christie and Sayers and co., as two women are beheaded in the most grisly manner. We aren't treated to the murder scenes (well, I say "treated")--the body finding is enough for me, and for most of the characters. The tale twists and turns; just about time I'd think I had the murderer taped, some new facts would come to light that made me have to think again. The war with its blackouts and home leave is part of their world, though rationing is not mentioned. The wealthy are still wealthy, and spend their time playing cards and dancing to the gramophone; there's still a very 1920s-30s feel about the story.It surprises me that Brand is so little known in the world of mystery fans--I have been an avid reader of whodunnits since about age 10 and this is the first of her works that I've come across. I don't even remember seeing them in my hometown library, where the mystery section took up a fairish chunk of the main room. She can certainly give Agatha and Ngaio a run for their money.

  • Otto Penzler
    2019-02-19 15:04

    The first book featuring Inspector Cockrill, this Golden Age mystery was first published in 1941. Against the backdrop of WWII, a group of friends have gathered in a country manor house, the Pideonsford Estate. But perhaps some friendships aren’t all that close, and soon heads begin to roll. Literally. When a neighbor is found dead, it quickly becomes apparent that the killer is one of the party guests, even though, of course, theyall maintain their innocence. When Cockrill arrives to investigate, secrets begin to surface and motives appear. Heads You Lose is a classic Golden Age mystery by one of the greatest of all writers of fair play detective stories—perfect for fans of Agatha Christie.

  • P.D.R. Lindsay
    2019-02-03 21:14

    Classic Murder mystery fiction. A lovely glimpse at how these books were once written. An excellent piece of reading for writers doing research into the British Upper middle Classes during WWII.Clever writing, a tricky plot and a chuckle for those of us 'moderns' who enjoy stock characters being given a new lease of life. If the 'frightfully gay young things' irritate a little the reader can always reflect that those ways were an attempt to hide the effects of the war.A book for Agatha Christie lovers and for those who like crime written the old fashioned way.

  • Nancy
    2019-01-28 22:24

    another bad one. spoiler alert: This one asks us to believe that a man can commit really gruesome murders (like beheadings) without knowing it. Then it asks us to believe that he realizes that he is a serial murderer while he's commiting a murder and manages to shoot himself "to save the victim" AND that everybody is GRATEFUL to him and remembers him kindly after that! Sheesh!!!!

  • Mimi
    2019-02-12 21:15

    Just okIt wasn't hard to figure out the murderer. The mystery was why his or her close friends didn't notice how creepy that person was. I guess they were just too busy being charming and adorable.

  • Jenn Estepp
    2019-01-20 19:12

    I thought it was mediocre but serviceable until we got to the end and then I hated it so much that if it were a real book instead of a kindle book I would have thrown it across the room in disgust.

  • Sandy
    2019-02-15 15:03

    An enjoyable quick read, written in a humorous style that I appreciated. It is the 'standard' impossible murder in a country house of golden-age mysteries: no footprints in the snow, limited list of suspects with unbreakable alibis. On the negative side, the ending is not satisfying and the book is very politically incorrect.

  • Bill
    2019-02-05 22:12

    Green for Danger is one of my favorite detective films, mainly because of the brilliant Alastair Sims's portrayal of Inspector Cockrill and the WWII setting. I read that book years ago and enjoyed it, but it didn't spur me on to read additional Brands. Now i have read two more, this one Heads You Lose, and Fog of Doubt and I doubt I will read anymore. In both of them, Cockrill is practically a minor character, acting as detective, but the stories are told from the point of view of the various suspects - all of whom are such wonderful people and could not possibly have done it - until at some point, we are told how everyone could have done it. Cockrill does make some deductions along the way, but especially in Heads You Lose, he doesn't share them and hardly does so at the end. In fact, in this book, he doesn't really seem to solve the mystery so much as fall over it. Personally, I found few of the characters very interesting or even likable. They seemed to remain fairly one and a half dimensional: the young ditzy society girl, the solid motherly matron, the oblivious upper middle class clueless male, the charming young man pining for the young woman he can't attain. None of them really come alive, unlike the similar characters in an Agatha Christie story (a writer I've come to admire more over the years).

  • Slmstanley
    2019-01-31 22:04

    This is a reissue of a murder mystery written in the 1940's. I received an ARC of this title for evaluation.I realize that when I read first-printing classic mysteries, there are going to be things that I'll have to make allowances for, because they were printed a long time ago. Things have changed since my parents' infancy, and that's a good thing.But when a publisher reissues an out-of-print work and leaves in every single offensive non-plot-related remark (ex: "horrid little Jew"), I have to wonder if their editors even read it. The plot was old-fashioned cozy all the way, with a rumpled inspector, country manor house, and quirky suspects. I'd have enjoyed it greatly if I wasn't ill from the anti-Semitic remarks (in a novel set during or just post-WII. UGH.)

  • Claudia
    2019-02-19 14:08

    A solid classic English country-house mystery. It is slightly marred by the casual bigotry of the time: One character is Jewish, and it gets mentioned, often, in not so nice terms--but, then again, said character has married into the main family, and there are several mentions of how much his wife loves him, so in fairness, it's not a completely evil caricature.I was curious about this, because I recently saw an old, WWII-era movie featuring her Inspector Cockrill character. The movie was pretty good (with the always delightful Alastair Sim playing the lead), so I went looking for the books he first appeared in. I'm rather impressed with the casting, actually; Sim fits the bill awfully well.

  • Susan
    2019-01-30 20:04

    Although it's winter and wartime, Stephen Pendock is entertaining a congenial house-party of old friends. The only conflict comes from two men who are in love with the same young woman. There is some talk of the murder that had occurred last year, but that was surely the crime of a wandering maniac of some sort. Then one of the neighbors dies in much the same way, and next to the body is left an item from the locked house. Despite suspicions, everyone in the house is sure that the criminal came from somewhere else. Inspector Cockrill likes all the house guests, but it's clear to him that one of these nice people is a devious murderer.

  • Joyce
    2019-01-27 16:06

    I was disappointed by this mystery, as I expected something clever, and instead I felt the resolution was more of a deus ex machine. I hate those. Give me something clever to sort out OR give me an omniscient detective who figures it out, but don't blame it on something ridiculous. Fortunately I read this most quickly and got it cheaply on Amazon, but it disappointed me greatly too. ARRRGGG. I wanted to cry out.

  • Karen
    2019-02-14 16:04

    I enjoyed the characters and the writing, but was really dissatisfied with the ending. It presented a picture of mental illness that I found completely unconvincing. Well, I'll have to read some of her other books and see if I like them better.

  • Wendy
    2019-01-29 16:18

    Kind of gruesome.

  • Pamela
    2019-01-30 15:11

    Not too bad. There's better out there, but there's also a whole lot worse.

  • Farseer
    2019-02-10 19:25

    As a fan of Agatha Christie's mysteries, I wanted to explore some other writers from the Golden Age of mystery. I was disappointed at a couple of early Ngaio Marsh novels, but I really enjoyed this one by Christianna Brand.The writing is excellent, and Brand is really good at depicting vivid characters. The emphasis is not so much on Inspector Cockrill and his investigation, but on the psychology of the people involved and on how they perceive the situation.The last part of the novel is like a roller coaster, where several characters in quick succession seem to be the murderer. The true solution is a bit convoluted and unlikely, but that's something that often happens in these "cosy" mysteries.Very enjoyable.

  • Kirsten
    2019-02-18 14:59

    This book is very much n the tradition of Agatha Christie and other mystery writers of their time. The author was a Christie contemporary, and this publisher is bringing back authors of that era to a new generation of readers. Wonderful! 6 suspects at country estate in England during WW2 and two grisly murders and one police detective and his constables trying to solve these murders. Are these two related to one committed in the same way the previous summer? Oh the surprises and the plausible scenarios. All makes for a good Christie-like read. Highly recommend it if you like Books from that era and genre.

  • Cynthia Brockett
    2019-02-15 21:59

    Dated, offensive anti-semitism and an inspector with no personality. Ridiculous plot. I originally thought the racism might be part of the characterization, but no! To say it was "of the time" , puhlease. Agatha Christie was of the time and you don't see any of that, as I can remember, in her novels. Of course, she was an exceedingly smart woman and I appreciate her more now when I see how well constructed her books were, compared to this claptrap. I can't believe Otto Penzler gave it a decent review.

  • Jill
    2019-01-26 15:59

    Very good story, with likable characters of the time. I really liked Inspector Cockrill finding him very entertaining. Will definitely go on to read more in this series.

  • S Dizzy
    2019-02-09 16:55

    Wow! I did not see that ending coming! This was a brilliant mystery! I will definitely finish the whole series if this 1st story is anything to go by.

  • Lynn
    2019-02-02 15:56

    A charming classic English manor house mystery set in the 1940s, with a limited cast of suspects. We even get a helpful list of the 10 main characters with the statement: among these are 2 victims and a murderer. Love the Golden Age style. Although I must say the resolution felt too dated in attitude, most of the book's style was a pleasurable throwback.

  • Abbey
    2019-01-26 22:15

    HEADS YOU LOSE, Christianna Brand, 1941, Inspector Cockrill #1, rural England, early in WWII. Some plot elements extremely "dated" now; still entertaining, but not her best work. Three-and-one-half stars out of five.A 40ish spinster with a nasty tongue is found dead in a ditch, her head cut off, having recently quarreled with pretty nearly everybody she knew at The Big House near a small village. Beautifully wrought timetable plot mixed with “lunatic at large” overtones, focused on a wealthy household filled with suspects. Introduces the remarkable Cockie, who shines brightly here but really comes into his own in #2, the justifiably renowned GREEN FOR DANGER, 1944. This isn't truly a four-star book (I didn't know how to give 3-and-one-half stars) since it's a bit too cutesy in spots, although when first published it would have seemed oh-so-chic and sophisticated. At 70 years after writing it’s still a comfortable read though, generally entertaining, and the plotting is clever. Its age only shows in the denouement, which is tremendously melodramatic and a bit of a letdown.

  • Terry Lee
    2019-01-20 19:00

    This is the first book by Christiana Brand that introduces the character of Inspector Cockrill. A group of friends gather at Pigeonsford Cottage, the home of Stephen Pendock, the squire of the village. There is Lady Hart, grandmother to Fran and Venetia; Venetia's husband, Henry; and Fran's suitor, James. The excitement begins when Pendock's butler, Bunsen, runs to the house after finding neighbor, Grace Morland, dead in the ditch in front of the cottage. Cockrill begins his investigation immediately thinking it had to be one of the houseguests. When Grace Morland's niece, Pippi LeMay, is found dead a day later, the investigation really heats up.I enjoyed all the characters in this book, especially Investigator Cockrill when he got frustrated while questioning the guests who were insulted being suspects. Looking forward to reading the second in the series, "Green for Danger."

  • Jazz
    2019-02-14 20:59

    If you like a classic puzzle mystery as I do, you'll enjoy this one. This is the second Brand mystery I've read, the first being Green for Danger, which is considered her best, but I enjoyed this one equally. (I do have to take off one star for the anti-Semitic comments, though probably typical of the period.) Inspector Cockrill returns to solve the mystery of who killed and decapitated two (and possibly three) women when the closed group of suspects are all seemingly accounted for. I enjoy the subtle humor of these books, the characters are always distinctive (no confusing them), and the solution surprising.