Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Book 9 of 2014: The Saltmarsh Murders by Gladys Mitchell

The Saltmarsh Murders by Gladys Mitchell is the second in a set of books that I got Mr Click from The Book People a while ago. There are actually quite a few by the same author but the set we’ve got just comprises of eight of them.

Warning, this review contains spoilers.

They feature Mrs Bradley, a weird woman who is kind of a profiler of sorts. She’s got a habit of showing up in places where people get murdered or go missing and then uses her own unique personality to solve the crime. In this one a woman and her illegitimate baby go missing and then the woman shows up dead, leaving them with two mysteries to solve; where is the baby and what happened to its mother.

I enjoyed this book a great deal more than the first Gladys Mitchell book that I read. The first one seemed to drag and I found it quite slow going. This one had a much quicker pace to it and I found it a lot easier to follow. Because of that I got through it much quicker as well. It only took me about four days whereas I think I was reading the other one for about a week.

Although I did enjoy the book more than the last one, I wasn’t really keen on the way that it was resolved. There was an illegitimate baby that went missing and was never found, apparently it was never killed because the murderer would never have been able to kill a baby, but you never got to find out what happened to it. Presumably it was handed over to someone who wanted a child and was far enough away from the village that no one would put two and two together, or it was placed in an orphanage or something, but I don’t like the not knowing.

And then there was the fact that the person who did the murder died quite neatly at the end. Just fainting away in shock and having a heart attack or something. It wasn’t really much of a resolution because it just wasn’t very satisfying. The murderer wasn’t going to pay for their crime and wasn’t able to reveal exactly what happened to the baby either. It was a bit of a let down.

This book was much easier to follow than the first one. I’m not sure if it was because the characters felt more well-defined so that they didn’t just blur into one another or if it was just a more enjoyable read. Whatever the reason, I felt better able to follow the story and so I could guess at what was going on as well as what might have happened. I did suspect at one point that the baby was mixed-race and that’s why it had been hidden away and not shown to anyone. That turned out to be a red herring, but a good one in so far as I was able to let myself get drawn in completely the wrong direction, all the while feeling smug because I thought I’d got it figured out.

Mr Click’s not read the third one yet and I don’t usually like to read books belonging to other people until they’ve read them, but he’s not in a hurry to go back to the Gladys Mitchell ones so I’ll probably tackle the third one at some point regardless of whether or not he’s read it. I’m hoping that they continue to get easier to follow and so become more enjoyable reads.

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