The Voice of the Corpse by Max Murray

back of book:
Angela Pewsey had sung her last song. At 3:30 one fine afternoon, a smart blow to the back of the head cut her off in midnote-and a grateful village breathed a sigh of relief. Aside from an outraged music lover, who would have wished the middle-aged spinster permanently silenced? Who wouldn’t have!

Until her final breath, the vicious prying snoop had meticulously collected bits and snatches of other people’s lives…from scraps of conversation, pilfered correspondence, spying moments. Angela Pewsey knew something about everyone in the village of Inching Round-and everything about some folks. In gloating, threatening letters, she let them know their secrets were no longer safe…and those poison-pen letters spelled an invitation to murder. Now Angela’s venomous pen had been stilled, but her hate-filled diary remained to reveal the murderer’s name!

In this skillfully plotted puzzler, the list of suspects is almost as large as the population of Inching Round. Chief among them (and all recipients of Angela’s malicious missives) are vain, quick-tempered Graham Ward; Major George Torrens, a peppery retired army man; overworked country doctor Eric Daw; and Joyce Everard, the married woman he loves.

The bumbling village police are quite off the track with their fanciful ‘tramp theory’, none of the locals believe it, and certainly not young London solicitor Firth Prentice or ‘Long Tom’ Fowler, the somber inspector just down from Scotland Yard. Too many other folks had both motive and means. Like the seemingly absent-minded Mrs. Sim and her lovely daughter Celia, or the poacher Artie Evans…

Take this simmering mixture of plausible perpetrators, throw in a shocking confession, add an exciting, unexpected finale and you have The Voice of the Corpse,an outstanding example of post Second World War British mystery fiction that combines excellent dialogue, fine characterization and pervasive irony in a gripping tale of suspense.’

Last book for 2014! Hard to believe another year gone. I enjoyed this book tremendously. Fun, quirky characters, and surprising solution. The two young boys, Jack and Alfie were a hoot!

‘You say that you saw a Mr Graham Ward?’
‘That’s right.’
‘What time?’
‘Ten to Two.’
‘How do you know the exact time?’
‘We had a bar of chocolate and we weren’t going to start eating it till two o’clock, so we were watching the church clock.’…

‘What time did he come back?’
‘Ten minutes to three.’
The inspector grunted at such precision. ‘How do you know that?’
‘Because I bet Alfie he couldn’t make his chocolate bar last till Mr. Ward came back. He made it last till a quarter to three by just licking, and it was just gone when Mr. Ward come back.
‘Alfie was wild because he had to make his chocolate last so long, because he had to take such little slow licks he couldn’t taste nothing.’

If you get a chance to read this, DO. I’ll be on the look out for more of Max Murray!

Oh and today is my 20th wedding anniversary! It’s a real miracle!


Peggy Ann