Dorothy Bowers (1902 – 1948)
Clifford Witting (1907 – 1968)
Following my inveterate habit not to start reading an author following a chronological order of his or her books, I have selected the following titles to begin to familiarise myself with them both. Stay tune!
Emma Betony is an elderly lady reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that the rest of her life is to be spent in inaction at Toplady Homes–a serviced London establishment for retired gentlewomen. Salvation appears to arrive in the form of an impassioned plea for help from an old pupil, Grace Aram, who now runs Makeways, a girls school and private nursing home in the west country. When Emma arrives at Makeways, however, it is to discover a community haunted by a malignant force that threatens to call up anew the ghosts of her own past. And when tragedy strikes, Emma finds she must face her own demons if she is to bring a murderer to justice.
Catt Out of the Bag, 1939 (Inspector Harry Charlton #4) by Clifford Witting (Galileo Publishers, 2020)
This reissue of a classic mystery originally published in 1939 sparkles with wonderfully wry humour and the energy of the time. John Rutherford finds himself puzzling the mysterious disappearance of a man from an evening of carol singing. The novel begins with: “A rather curious thing happened during the evening of Sunday, the 21st of December”. John narrates, and within a few paragraphs had me chuckling in appreciation. As John investigates it becomes clear that the darkest of deeds may have been committed, and he reports the case to Inspector Charlton. Clifford Witting wrote 16 novels between 1937 and 1964, Catt Out of the Bag is the fourth involving Inspector Harry Charlton, yet you can quite happily read this as a standalone. I found myself completely wrapped up in the era, and thoroughly enjoyed the lively wit. Sitting as it does within the ‘Golden Age’ of mystery writing Catt Out of the Bag really is a perfect Christmas Mystery.