Review: Dead Man’s Quarry (1930) by Ianthe Jerrold

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Dean Street Press, 2015. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 1240 KB. Print length: 327 pages. Dead Man’s Quarry was originally published in 1930. This new edition, the first in eighty years, includes an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans. eISBN: 978 1 910570 30 2. ASIN: B00UQYSFS4.

51DtaWddxNL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Book Description: “the murderer was also riding a bicycle… why, if we can trace it, we shall have the murderer!” . On a cycling holiday in the idyllic Wales-Herefordshire border countryside, Nora and her friends make a gruesome discovery – the body of their missing comrade at the bottom of a quarry. But an apparently accidental fall turns out to have been murder – for the man was shot in the head. Fortunately John Christmas, last seen in The Studio Crime (1929), is on hand with his redoubtable forensic assistant, Sydenham Rampson. Between them they shed light on an intricate pattern of crimes… and uncover a most formidable foe.Dead Man’s Quarry is the second of Ianthe Jerrold’s classic and influential whodunits, originally published in 1930.

My review of the first Ianthe Jerrold’s classic whodunit, The Crime Studio (1929), is available here.

My take: Six cyclists are touring the Welsh Marches. One of them loses contact with the rest of the group by a puncture. The following day, his body appears at the bottom of a quarry. Soon it is discovered that his death was not the result of a fatal accident. There are clear indications he was murdered. The deceased was Sir Charles Price who had recently returned from Canada to take charge of his inheritance as the new country squire of Rhyllan. The main suspect, following the inquest, is his own uncle, Morris Price and is immediately arrested. Fortunately, amateur detective John Christmas and his cousin Sydenham Rampson, find themselves over there. John Christmas, convinced of Morris innocence, decides to investigate on his own account. Besides, there are many questions unanswered. 

I’ve very much enjoyed the reading of Dead Man’s Quarry and, in this sense, I also regret that, after its publication, Ianthe Jerrold would not have written one other detective novel. The plot, though it is sometimes complicated, turns out to be very clever. Besides, I found the story well structured and nicely written. The characters are quite credible and , for my liking, are interesting. I recommend it particularly to all those interested in the Golden Age of detective fiction.

My rating: B ( I really liked it)

About the author: Ianthe Jerrold was born in 1898, the daughter of the well-known author and journalist Walter Jerrold, and granddaughter of the Victorian playwright Douglas Jerrold. She was the eldest of five sisters. She published her first book, a work of verse, at the age of fifteen. This was the start of a long and prolific writing career characterized by numerous stylistic shifts. In 1929 she published the first of two classic and influential whodunits. The Studio Crime gained her immediate acceptance into the recently-formed but highly prestigious Detection Club, and was followed a year later by Dead Man’s Quarry. Ianthe Jerrold subsequently moved on from pure whodunits to write novels ranging from romantic fiction to psychological thrillers. She continued writing and publishing her fiction into the 1970’s. She died in 1977, twelve years after her husband George Menges. Their Elizabethan farmhouse Cwmmau was left to the National Trust.

What others have said: Fans of England’s Golden Age Crime Queens –Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh– should enjoy excavating Quarry, a notable precursor of the Thirties English manners mystery. Indeed, both Dead Man’s Quarry and The Studio Crime are admirably accomplished detective novels, long overdue for recovery. (The Passing Tramp).

Dead Man’s Quarry is that rarity of a forgotten novel that has rightly been rediscovered and reprinted for the ever growing audience of traditional detective novel readers who crave more and more of the old-fashioned whodunits of the past.  First and foremost it does what a truly fine detective novel should do —it entertains the reader on all levels. Ianthe Jerrold’s best assets include her lively sense of humor and her refusal to pull cut-out characters from the dusty trunk of expected stereotypes and archetypes usually found in detective novels of this era. (Pretty Sinister Books).

It’s an utterly charming book and in some ways ahead of its time. Christie had only written ten books at this stage, and her style still hadn’t settled down, and Carr released his first book in the same year as this one. But this book, and The Studio Crime, deserve a space on the shelf right alongside these two masters of the classic mystery. (In Search of the Classical Mystery Novel).

Ianthe Jerrold is another of the fine Golden Age authors now being rescued from undeserved obscurity by publishers such as Dean Street Press. Jerrold was mostly a “mainstream” author, but two of her early mysteries – the only ones she published under her own name – were good enough to earn her a place in the prestigious Detection Club, that organization of fine British mystery writers. Dead Man’s Quarry is the second of those mysteries. (Classic Mysteries).

Dead Man’s Quarry is a traditional English village mystery with all the qualities I especially enjoy. Jerrold’s writing is witty & full of sly allusions to detective fiction, …. The characters are well-drawn & they’re believable, …. The whole cast of characters are interesting & the plot, though incredibly complicated, bowls along at a great pace. I like John Christmas as a detective & I think the addition of his cousin, Syd, to pour cold water on his theories & be the often ignored voice of reason, was terrific. I’m only sorry that Ianthe Jerrold only wrote two mystery novels. (I Prefer Reading). 

Dean Street Press publicity page 

Dead Man’s Quarry (La cantera del hombre muerto) de Ianthe Jerrold

Descripción del libro: “el asesino también iba en bicicleta … ¡por ello, si podemos rastrearla, tendremos el asesino!”. En vacaciones, durante un paseo en bicicleta por la idílica campiña de la frontera entre Gales y Herefordshire, Nora y sus amigos hacen un descubrimiento espantoso, en el fondo de una cantera se encuentra el cuerpo sin vida de su compañero desaparecido. Sin embargo, una caída en apariencia accidental resulta ser un asesinato, dado que el hombre había recibido un tiro en la cabeza. Afortunadamente John Christmas, visto por última vez en The Studio Crime (1929), se encuentra presente junto con su abnegado colaborador, el forense Sydenham Rampson. Entre ambos sacan a la luz un complejo entramado de crímenes … y decubren al más formidable de los enemigos. Dead Man’s Quarry es es el segundo de los clásicos e influyentes whodunits de Ianthe Jerrold, publicado originalmente en 1930.

Mi reseña del primer clásico whodunit de Ianthe Jerrold, The Studio Crime (1929), está disponible aquí.

Mi opinión: Seis ciclistas están de gira por las Marcas Galesas. Uno de ellos pierde contacto con el resto del grupo por un pinchazo. Al día siguiente, su cuerpo aparece en el fondo de una cantera. Pronto se descubre que su muerte no fue el resultado de un fatal accidente. Hay indicios claros de que fue asesinado. El fallecido era Sir Charles Price que había regresado recientemente de Canadá para hacerse cargo de su herencia como el nuevo propietario de Rhyllan. El principal sospechoso, a raíz de la investigación, es su propio tío, Morris Price y es detenido inmediatamente. Afortunadamente, el detective aficionado John Christmas y su primo Sydenham Rampson, se encuentran allí. John Christmas, convencido de la inocencia de Morris, decide investigar por su propia cuenta. Además, hay muchas preguntas sin respuesta.

He disfrutado mucho de la lectura de Dead Man’s Quarry y, en este sentido, yo también lamento que, después de su publicación, Ianthe Jerrold no hubiera escrito otra novela policíaca. La trama, aunque a veces es complicada, resulta ser muy inteligente. Además, he encontrado la historia bien estructurada y bien escrita. Los personajes son muy creíbles y, para mi gusto, son interesantes. Se lo recomiendo sobre todo a todos aquellos interesados ​​en la edad de oro de las novelas de detectives.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó mucho)

Sobre la autora: Ianthe Jerrold nació en 1898, hija del conocido autor y periodista Walter Jerrold, y nieta del dramaturgo Douglas Jerrold de la época victoriana. Fue la mayor de cinco hermanas. Publicó su primer libro, una obra poética, a la edad de quince años. Lo que significó el inicio de una larga y prolífica carrera de escritora caracterizada por numerosos cambios estilísticos. En 1929 publicó la primera de sus dos clásicos e influyentes whodunits. The Studio Crime la hizo merecedora de su inmediata admisión al recién creado pero muy prestigioso Detention Club, al que siguió un año más tarde Dead Man’s Quarry. Ianthe Jerrold posteriormente pasó de simples whodunits a escribir novelas que van desde la novela romántica hasta thrillers psicológicos. Continuó escribiendo y publicando sus novelas en la década de los 70. Murió en 1977, doce años después del fallecimiento de su marido George Menges. Su casa de campo de estilo Tudor, Cwmmau, fue legada al National Trust.

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