Death at The Dog by Joanna Cannan

originally published in 1941

from the back cover:
‘Set in late 1939 during the first anxious months of World War II, Joanna Cannan’s Death at The Dog is a wonderful example of the classic English detective novel that first flourished between the two World Wars when writers like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh began practicing their trade. Like so many books of its period, Death at The Dog is set in a picturesque village filled with thatched-roof cottages, eccentric villagers and genial pubs. As well-plotted as a Christie, with clues abundantly and fairly planted, it’s also as deftly written as the best of the books by either Sayers or Marsh, filled with quotable lines and perceptive observations on the human condition. Cannan had a gift for characterization that’s second to none in Golden Age detective fiction, and she created two memorable lead characters in Death at The Dog.

One of them is Inspector Guy Northeast, a lonely young Scotland yard inspector who makes his second and final appearance here and finds himself hopelessly smitten with the chief suspect in the murder of the village tyrant. The other unforgettable character is the ‘lady novelist’ Crescy Hardwick, an unconventional and ultimately unobtainable woman a number of years Guy’s senior, who is able to pierce his armor and see the unhappiness that haunts the detective’s private moments. Well aware that all the evidence seems to point to her, she is also able – unlike her less imaginative fellow villagers – to see how very good Northeast is at his job.’

The village tyrant is murdered in a room full of people, everyone of them with reason to do it, and no one saw a thing. They thought he was asleep like every evening in The Dog. Very interesting puzzle. The clues are quite straight forward, no real red herrings and pretty easy to figure out. But Ms Cannan does write good characters. I was drawn in by the people and the pub. I liked Inspector Northeast and she could have done so much more with him if she had made the case a little harder to solve. The time period it was set in with petrol shortages and black outs really added to the story. The ‘unforgettable’ lady novelist was quite forgettable as far as I was concerned though:) I do want to read the first Inspector Northeast book now!

Peggy Ann

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7 thoughts on “Death at The Dog by Joanna Cannan

  1. I like the sound of this though it sounds like it fell slightly short of your expectations? I laughed at your comment that the unforgettable lady novelist was, in your opinion, actually quite forgettable. Too funny. 😀

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  2. Ooh, I've *got* to read this! I've only read a more serious book by Cannan, but this sounds just my cup of tea. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be available in the UK at the moment and I can't really justify the expense of ordering even a used copy from the US 😦
    I'll have to drop hints in time for the next birthday, I guess!

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  3. It's the cost of it used that puts me off, I'm afraid, and that it actually ships from the US 😦 . For the same amount (about $30 with postage) I could get 3 or 4 e-books. I'll keep watching though, in case a copy turns up here!

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