The Barchester Murders by G M Best

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The Barchster Murders by G M Best

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Almost a prequel to The Warden with many of the issues bubbling up in that book beginning to be aired - but - be warned, G M Best has taken one or two liberties with the facts!
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: January 2015
Publisher: Buried River Press
ISBN: 978-1910208083

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Anthony Trollope was very taken with Barchester when he first visited the city, but pausing to look out at a pleasant view he discovered the body of Thomas Rider, a bedesman at Hiram's Hospital. At first it was suspected that Trollope might have been the murderer - for this was no natural death, but a stabbing - but once he proved that he was a professional man there on business for the first time, he found himself drawn into the investigation. There is a secret which the warden, the Reverend Septimus Harding has hidden for well over a decade and it looks as though Rider might have been murdered to prevent the secret coming out.

It's a neat introduction to walk an author into the setting of one of his most famous books and then have him investigate many of his own characters chance they should be murderers. The case revolves around the presumption that one of Septimus Harding's daughters - Eleanor and Susan - is not his natural child, but the daughter of a murderess. Harding accepts that this is possible, but even he doesn't know which child is his own. If this was proved to be correct then the scandal would certainly bring down Harding and Susan's husband - Dr Theophilus Grantley - would see his chances of becoming the next bishop of Barchester disappear in smoke.

I picked this book up on a whim. I'd just read Thornfield Hall by Jane Stubbs, an elegant reworking of Jane Eyre and I was intrigued to see what could be done with The Warden. Best captures to language and the setting perfectly, as well of the main characters from the original, but I was a little disappointed that he had to do some juggling with the facts (no - I'm not going to tell you where) to accommodate his story. It was neatly done, with a good twist in the tail which I didn't spot until it was nearly on me. Perhaps best of all, I've decided to reread The Warden over Christmas.

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

For another sideways look at a classic, have a look at The French Dancer's Bastard by Emma Tennant although we don't think that it's as good as Thornfield Hall by Jane Stubbs.

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