Death at the Opera by Gladys Mitchell

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Death at the Opera by Gladys Mitchell

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Crime as it used to be written with plenty of twists and a good traditional puzzle to solve. Definitely recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099546849

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Miss Ferris would not normally have been entertained for a major part in Hillmaston School's production of The Mikado. She was self-effacing, meek and not very talented. But – she had offered to finance the cost of the production and this swung matters in her favour. It did mean that she couldn't afford the holiday she had planned for the summer and had to spend it in her aunt's boarding house, but she'd been pleased to make the gesture as she'd been happy at the school.

Despite taking one of the main parts she was not due to make her appearance until a good way through the first act, but when she was called she was nowhere to be found and it was only after the performance that her body was found. She had drowned in a bowl of water. Despite the coroner's court deciding that this was suicide the headmaster of Hillmaston was unconvinced and called in Mrs Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, a rather unconventional psychoanalyst, to investigate.

I've often wondered why Agatha Christie has remained popular for so long whilst authors such as Gladys Mitchell have faded from the public consciousness. To my mind she's at least the equal of Christie and quite possibly better. This is a detective story as the used to be told with plenty of possible suspects, red herrings galore and a twist which I certainly wasn't expecting right at the end. Gladys Mitchell was a school teacher and she has the setting of the school perfectly, with the petty jealousies and strange relationships between the staff, despite the fact that most of them really are doing their best.

Miss Ferris is a superb creation. She taught arithmetic to the lower forms, but didn't have much of a life outside the school. For someone who was so meek and self-effacing she managed, in a relatively short time, to create a queue of people all of whom had compelling reasons if not to kill her then at least not to object to seeing her dead. I thought I knew who had murdered her, but I was wrong. I read it in a couple of sittings over the course of a weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more school-based mysteries we can recommend anything by M J Trow.

Buy Death at the Opera by Gladys Mitchell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death at the Opera by Gladys Mitchell at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Death at the Opera by Gladys Mitchell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death at the Opera by Gladys Mitchell at Amazon.com.

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