Fellow blogger and writer Jason Half announced yesterday the December 2021 Mitchell Mystery Reading Group title: GROANING SPINNEY (1950). Oddly enough, I was looking forward to reading this month Groaning Spinney (Mrs Bradley Book #23), a 1950 detective novel by British writer Gladys Mitchell. Stay tuned
Groaning Spinney was recently republished under the title of Murder in the Snow: A Cotswold Christmas Mystery by Vintage Digital in 2017.
This classic crime treat is the perfect Christmas gift for fans of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh.
First published in 1950 as Groaning Spinney.
‘A delight… An amateur sleuth to rival Miss Marple’ Guardian
Mrs Bradley, sharp-eyed detective and celebrated psychiatrist, has decided to spend Christmas with her nephew at his beautiful house in the Cotswolds.
It isn’t long before a mystery unfolds. There are strange events occurring in the nearby wood and local villagers are receiving anonymous threatening letters. Then the snow begins to fall – and a body is discovered.
Mrs Bradley is on the case, but she’ll have to hatch an ingenious plan to reveal the truth and find the culprit…
About the Author: Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell (1901 – 1983), who wrote as Gladys Mitchell, and also as Stephen Hockaby and Malcolm Torrie, was born in Cowley, Oxfordshire on April 19, 1901, she was the daughter of James and Annie Mitchell. Her father’s family were Scots, and a Scottish influence is apparent in several of her novels. Gladys Mitchell was educated at the Green School, Isleworth, Middlesex; then Goldsmith’s and University Colleges, University of London. Between 1921 and 1950 she taught at St. Paul’s School, Brentford, St. Ann’s Senior Girls’ School, Ealing, and the Brentford Senior Girls’ School, her subjects being English, history and games. Retiring from this work in 1950, she became bored without the constant stimulus of teaching, even although she was then extremely busy with writing, and had been producing a book a year ever since 1929. She accepted a position at the Matthew Arnold School, Staines and taught there from 1953 to 1961. After then finally giving up teaching she lived at Corfe Mullen in Dorset for several years. She remained unmarried.
Gladys Mitchell’s first novel Speedy Death was published in 1929; it featured Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, a witty, bizarre but stylishly competent sleuth whose investigations were eventually to fill over sixty books. Mrs. Bradley, later Dame Beatrice, a psychoanalyst, author and holder of honorary degrees from almost every university in the world, was the epitome of the professional woman. Many of her rational and socially progressive views were similar to those of her originator, for whom at times she seemed a mouthpiece. Some of the books, Death at the Opera, in 1934 and Laurels are Poison in 1942, for example, were set in girls’ school or college backgrounds which Gladys Mitchell knew so well and whose tension-generating potential she so skilfully exploited.
A survivor from the Golden Age of detective fiction (the 1920’s and 1930’s), she was an early member of the Detection Club whose active supporters included authors as celebrated as Dorothy L Sayers, G K Chesterton and Agatha Christie. She frequently satirized or reversed traditional patterns of the genre, succumbing to black humour, creating tongue-in-cheek mysteries and treading with extreme narrative confidence the hazardous paths between spoof and classic sleuthing fiction. Many of her books were spiced by eccentric and colourful themes like transvestism, witchcraft, folklore and the esoteric, and her strong interest in ancient buildings and customs. Her recreations included the study of architecture and writing poetry. She wrote detective fiction with undiminished energy and adroitness well into the 1980’s, and was a member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Society of Authors. In 1976 Gladys Mitchell received the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger award. As well as producing witty and incisive detective stories for adults she wrote several satisfying mystery books for juveniles. (Source; Fantastic Fiction).