Sent to His Account by Eilis Dillon

from the back cover:
Murder in an Irish village told with style and wit

Miles de Cogan is an impoverished Dublin bookkeeper who is overjoyed to find that he has inherited the prosperous County Wicklow estate (and title) of his late cousin, a baronet. A kind and generous man, Miles decides to put some of his progressive ideas into practice and turn the village flour mill into a cooperative, a plan that’s enthusiastically welcomed by all involved, but it gets put on hold when his overbearing neighbor, Tom Reid, is murdered. Reid’s plans to build a roadhouse had incurred the wrath of everyone in Dangan, and when Inspector pat Henley of the Irish Guards arrives on the scene, he finds more suspects than he can handle. Full of Irish wit and color, it’s this distinguished author’s second mystery, first published in 1954.

This is the third mystery I’ve read by Eilis Dillon and I’ve loved each one. This is probably the best of the three. She only wrote three mysteries. Too bad for us!

In this story, Miles, who came from a family of substance but had lost it all when Miles was young, inherits from a cousin he didn’t know. Miles is a good, kind, humble man and I liked him. I kind of wish there were more books about him and his life after this one! Very shortly after Miles arrives to live in Dangan, Tom Reid, who is hated by all, is murdered. But sadly for Miles he’s found dead in Miles’ library. There are lots of interesting characters in this story and a lot of red herrings. Very well plotted.

As a cow lover my affection for Miles was set with this:
‘Halfway along the drive he asked Barne to stop for a minute and switch off the engine. He wanted to listen to the silence, so still at first, but then full of birdcalls and the bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle. Presently he pointed into the distant fields and asked:
“Do I see deer over there?”
“Jersey cattle,” said Barne. “Cousins to deer. They are yours, too. I forgot to mention them. Sir Miles always kept about forty of them.”
It was many, many years since there had been a cow in Miles’ family. His bliss was now complete.’

In addition to Miles a list of some of the characters:

Mr. Barne. A Dublin solicitor, a dried-up little stick of a man, who was the late baronet’s agent and breaks the welcome news to Miles.

Tom Reid. A Prosperous, overbearing and almost universally disliked Dublin accountant and entrepreneur who makes his home in the village of Dangan.

Captain Merlin. Tom Reid’s neighbor, a grasping and greedy old man.

Jane Merlin. His pretty but passive daughter, Reid’s unwilling fiancee.

Martin Doyle. The owner of the village flour mill, who loves Jane Merlin.

Joe Connolly. The middle-aged hotel barman, a hothead, like Doyle

Paul Walsh. The onwer of the village hotel, a bit slow on the uptake.

Mrs. Henley. A grocer, one of Miles’ clients, as kindly as she is massive.

Mrs. Hooper. The surly housekeeper at Dangan House.

Inspector Pat Henley. Mrs. Henley’s son, now of the Irish Guards.

Sergeant Lawlor. His beefy and astute assistant.

This book was republished by Rue Morgue. I have yet to read one of their books that I didn’t like.

Peggy Ann

Death in the Quadrangle by Eilis Dillon

Up to the letter Q in Crime Fiction Alphabet! Stop over and see what else is going on with the letter Q.

This is the third in a series written in the 1950’s by Irish author Eilis (aye-lish) Dillon. Eilis’ son said they are best read in sequence but, I read the first one, ‘Death at Crane’s Court‘ (see my book report here) and jumped to this one as I needed a Q in my title! Ms. Dillon only wrote 3 mysteries in the 50 books she had published. What a shame, I enjoyed them. They are light, sardonic and slightly satirical. Writer and editor, Anthony Boucher said of the first mystery ‘Death at Crane’s Court‘, ‘long on charm and short on detection‘, but I found them well written and a great picture of the Ireland of more than 50 years ago. All three of these books have been reprinted by Rue Morgue Press.

Death in the Quadrangle‘ is set at a University and involves, of course, professors. An environment Eilis knew well, as both her husbands were professors.

Professor Daly, whom we first met in ‘Death at Crane’s Court‘, has been called out of his comfortable retirement at Crane’s Court to deliver a series of lectures at his old college, King’s College, in Dublin. He is surprised to discover how little he has missed academia and how eccentric, not to say vicious, his former colleagues now seem to him. Once there he finds out the real reason he has been invited to give lectures, Professor Bradley, the new president of the university has been receiving death threats and he wants Daly to get to the bottom of it for him. Bradley is disliked by everyone. He does not want the Guarda brought into it. But Daly calls in his old friend Inspector Mike Kenney (we also met him at Crane’s Court!) to help him, incognito. Of course before they can find out who is sending the threats Professor Bradley is found dead in his bed. Poisoned, with Nitrobenzene. It could be anyone of the people in his life. He was mean, selfish, arrogant…you get the picture and more than one of them have threatened to kill him.

Professor Milligan is a chemist (and a kleptomaniac!) and can make Nitrobenzene in his lab.
Sodia Milligan, his independent minded daughter is a medical student and busy seeing that the things her dad steals get back into the hands of the owners.
Professor Delaney is quite mad and sees rats everywhere.
Helen Bradley is the long suffering wife and what exactly is between her and Daly? There’s something from the past he doesn’t seem to want Mike Kenney to know.
Professor Fox seems to be Bradley’s only supporter, but is he really?
Professor Burren is a mean-spirited man and detests Bradley more than anyone and makes a point of showing it.
Professor Badger is a melancholy man with a large unruly family.
Professor Hamilton is a short, placid and cheerful man who fully intends to marry Sodia
Throw in Mr. Leahy, the wealthy Irish-American who intends to donate a large sum of money to the college. But what are he and Bradley really up to?
and Jennings the aged porter and compulsive sycophant and it could be anyone!

On the side we have a counterfeit ring under investigation by Inspector Kenney and his men. Does that figure into the death of Bradley?

I never picked up a single clue in this mystery so I’m not really sure there were any or if I just missed them. But it was a satisfying read for me. I am looking forward to reading the last one (well really the second one!) ‘Sent to His Account‘.

Eilis’ son, Cormac O Cuilleanain is the author of two crime novels published under the name of Cormac Millar. He also is a professor! He writes a beautiful introduction to his mother and her life and works in ‘Death in the Quadrangle’.

An Irish Solution   March 3, 2005

Seamus Joyce has got a few things on his mind. He has just been appointed Acting Director of iDEA, the Irish Drug Enforcement Agency. His wife is in hospital, dying of an unidentified ailment. And he is starting to question the purpose of his own existence. It’s a tricky time at iDEA: an ambitious new Minister for Justice is anxious to secure a few big scalps in the Dublin drug trade, and Joyce is expected to put himself on the front line of the fight. Soon he begins to suspect that the police, in league with the Minister, are bending the rules and he still doesn’t quite understand what the rules are. Why is money being paid into his bank account from an unnamed source in Liechtenstein? Why are his phones being tapped? And why are troubled schoolgirl and a diminutive nun accusing him of being at the heart of a lethal conspiracy
The Grounds  January 31, 2007

King’s College, Dublin, an ancient and thoroughly mediocre institution, is in crisis. It is also Seamus Joyce’s alma mater. When Seamus is hired to provide a consultant’s report on the university for a shadowy American consortium, he doesn’t realize what he’s in for: a poisonous brew of sexual intrigue, professional backstabbing, corruption, and murder.
In this book he uses the same location as his mom’s book, ‘Death in the Quadrangle’.

Eilis Dillon, Irish Author

This weeks letter is E
I am writing about Eilis Dillon a prolific Irish writer. I adore her vintage detective novels set in Ireland!
Eilis Dillon 1920-1994
Eilis (aye-lis) was born 1920 in Galway Ireland into a family deeply involved in the events of the Irish War of Independence. Her great uncle Joseph Mary Plunkett was one of the seven signatories of the Proclamation of Independence and was executed by firing squad following the Rebellion of Easter Week 1916. Her father and mother were both in jail at various times for political reasons. For more info on Eilis Dillon see her website here.

Eilis married Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin, seventeen years her senior and Professor of Irish at University College Cork. They had 3 children. Eilis ran a student hostel at the university. In the 1960’s Cormac’s healthy deteriorated and they moved to Rome. He died in 1970. Eilis’ huge historical novel about the road to Irish independence in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Across the Bitter Sea, was published in 1973 and it became an instant best seller.

Eilis remarried in in 1974 to Vivian Mercier, Professor of English in the University of Colorado at Boulder. Eventually moving to California where they spent winters and travelling to Ireland each spring and summer. Vivian died in 1989 followed in 1990 by the death of her daughter Máire, who was a violinist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Eilis died in 1994 at the age of 74

Eilis published poems, stories, many children’s books, and novels and three wonderful mysteriesTwo of these Irish mystery novels were translated into other languages; all were well received by the critics. They are of historic interest, being among the earlier novels of their kind to be set in Ireland, and they still make highly enjoyable reading as vintage crime fiction. Rue Morgue Press has reissued them in new trade paperback editions. I only wish she had written more detective stories!
click on each title for a synopsis…
I have all three books, but so far have only read Death at Crane’s Court. I loved it. Click on the book cover below to read my review.
This post is linked to Crime Fiction Alphabet @ Mysteries in Paradise. Hop over and see what others are reading in the genre!

Death at Crane’s Court by Eilis Dillon


Eilis Dillon 1920-1994
Murder strikes at a hotel on the Galway Bay in this witty Irish Mystery by Eilis (aye-lish) Dillon. Published in 1953 this is the first of three mysteries by this wonderful Irish writer. What a loss to the genre that she didn’t write more mysteries among her 50 published books!
Eilis was born in Galway Ireland into a family deeply involved in the events of the Irish War of Independence. Her great uncle Joseph Mary Plunkett was one of the seven signatories of the Proclamation of Independence and was executed by firing squad following the Rebellion of Easter Week 1916. Her father and mother were both in jail at various times for political reasons. For more info on Eilis Dillon see her website here.
Book description from back cover of Rue Morgue edition:
George Arrow is a bachelor of independent means who, when diagnosed with a weak heart, is urged to live out his days at Crane’s Court, a comfortable hotel on the Bay of Galway. On the train he chances to meet the hotel’s new owner, John Burden, who has just inherited the property and announces his intentions to shake things up a bit. and so he does. He quickly makes enemies of all the guests and staff, except for Eleanor Keane, the ambitious office manager who means to marry him. Meanwhile George makes friends with the amiable Professor Daly, one of the many old people who reside permanently on the premises. When Burden is stabbed through the heart, Daly’s old friend Inspector Mike Kenny soon discovers that practically everybody at the hotel has good reason to want him dead, particularly Barbara Henry, the previous owner’s widowed niece who now stands to inherit Crane’s court. And it turns out that her uncle may have been murdered as well. Told with gentle wit and charm, this first detective novel by a renowned Irish writer of children’s and literary fiction was originally published in 1953 and was followed by two others before she gave up crime writing for good.
Ms. Dillon has a way with words. An example from chapter 2:
  ‘The veranda was still full of people when George reached the glass door and looked in. He was not a timid man, but he quailed a little before the barrage of eyes turned towards him. It was like looking into an aquarium full of ancient carp, he thought. for most of the people were old, and they all stared with the intense single-mindedness and lack of embarrassment of the aged.
  He opened the door, marched in and looked about him, a little truculently, for a vacant table. There was dead silence. There was no vacant table. The old people were grinning fiendishly now, and one or two had begun to comment audible, though favorably, on his appearance. His knees wavered. Then a voice beside him said, in an undertone: “You had better sit here with me, Mr. Arrow, till the excitement dies down.”‘
I can just see those ‘old carp staring fiendishly, can’t you?
Death at Crane’s Court is a character driven story and oh what characters they are!
George Arrow – Thinks he is dying of a bad heart and has come here to live out his days in relative quiet and peace. Afraid to do anything strenuous or get stressed out. He falls in love with Mrs. Henry
John Burden – The odious new owner of the Court who wastes no time in making sure everyone wants to bump him off.
Professor Daly – An elderly professor of English literature with a secret…
Mrs. Robinson – Dubbed the ‘Queen-bee’ she knows how to get what she wants! And watch out for her greasy son Horace!
Colonel Waters – He has never really been a colonel, but he is certainly henpecked.
Mrs. Fennell – Very old and not quite right in the head, she lives in a small cottage on the grounds where she keeps a dozen cats and tends to her luxuriant flower garden. How do the cats equate into the lushness of her gardens?
and of course the Ghost of Sir Rodney the first owner of Crane’s Court and seen only by Mrs. Fennell.
Just to name a few! and Professor Daly and Inspector Mike Kenny re-appear in the third book, Death in the Quadrangle!
I did not have an inkling who the murderer was right up until it was revealed. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Crane’s Court and really hated to come to the end of the book. I did hurry and order copies of the other two mysteries though and am looking forward to reading them soon. Mystery lovers – Read this!