Post after post-mortem

E. C. R. Lorac, 1894-1958

Book - 2023

""Now tell us about your crime novel. Take my advice and don't try to be intellectual over it. What the public likes is blood." The Surrays and their five children form a prolific writing machine, with scores of treatises, reviews, and crime thrillers published under their family name. Following a rare convergence of the whole household at their Oxfordshire home, Ruth-middle sister who writes "books which are just books"- decides to spend some weeks there recovering from the pressures of the writing life, while the rest of the brood scatter to the winds again. Their next return is heralded by the tragic news that Ruth has taken her life after an evening at the Surrays's hosting a set of publishers and writ...ers, one of whom is named as Ruth's literary executor in the will she left behind. Despite some suspicions from the family, the verdict at the inquest is suicide-but when Ruth's brother Richard receives a letter from the deceased which was delayed in the post, he enlists the help of CID Robert Macdonald to investigate what could only be an ingeniously planned murder"--

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MYSTERY/Lorac, E. C. R.
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Detective and mystery fiction
Naperville, Illinois : Poisoned Pen Press [2023]
Main Author
E. C. R. Lorac, 1894-1958 (author)
Other Authors
Martin Edwards, 1955- (writer of introduction)
Item Description
"An Oxfordshire mystery"--Cover.
"Post After Post-Mortem was originally published in 1936 by Collins, London"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
xii, 305 pages ; 21 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

This twisty "snake in the garden" country-house mystery from a Golden Age crime-fiction master was published in 1936 and is reissued as the ninety-ninth entry in the British Library Crime Classics series. Set in Oxfordshire, the novel showcases an actual garden at the outset, obsessively tended by the matriarch of a family consisting of herself, her Oxford don husband, and five grown children, all amazingly accomplished as scientists or writers. Everything--garden, cottage, family--seems idyllic until one daughter is found dead in her bed the morning after the family entertains a clutch of writers and publishers. All the circumstantial evidence points to suicide, and the postmortem rules the death a suicide, but then the eldest brother, a psychologist, receives a letter--delayed in the post--from the dead daughter. Enter Detective Chief Inspector Macdonald, and suddenly the ruling of suicide is dropped, and a hunt begins for an in-house murderer who may strike again. While contemporary readers may find the dialogue a bit like Bertie and Jeeves on steroids, Lorac constructs a challenging puzzle and provides a marvelous glimpse into pre-WWII Oxford life. Those new to the author will want to follow up with his Murder by Matchlight and Bats in the Belfry, also part of the Crime Classics series.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

First published in 1936, this workmanlike mystery from Lorac (1884--1959) opens at Upton House in Oxfordshire, England, home of the Surray family, "whose intellectual attainments are famous." Richard, the eldest of the five Surray offspring, is a respected psychiatrist, and his sister Ruth is a renowned novelist, whose new book, her mother believes, is going to take Ruth's name "into every corner of the civilised world." The younger siblings are no less gifted, each in their own way. Then, to everyone's shock, Ruth is found dead in her room from an overdose of barbiturates, and an inquest determines that she died by suicide. Richard arrives back at his apartment in London to find a letter from Ruth, posted on the evening before she died, in which his sister seems to be in high spirits and definitely not suicidal. He calls Scotland Yard's Chief Insp. Robert MacDonald, who agrees to look into the woman's death. Clean prose makes up only in part for murky motives, one-dimensional characters, and the lack of humor. This entry in the British Library Crime Classics series works best as a literary artefact. (Feb.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

An Oxfordshire family's sense of its comfortable place in the world is rocked by the apparent suicide of one of its members, then by the even more disturbing news that it wasn't suicide after all. Get-togethers of the Surray family at Upwood House are almost like reciprocal book signings. Prof. John Surray writes academic treatises; his sons, Richard and Robert, maintain their professional standing by writing articles; his daughter Ruth is a successful novelist; and his daughter Naomi, who's just graduated with first-class honors in classics, will surely add to the pile. No wonder Judith Beech, his married daughter, has just burned her own manuscript, which would clearly face stiff competition. But not, as it happens, from Ruth, who's found dead in her bed from an overdose of thalmaine the morning after she hosts a dinner of fellow authors and publishers. Ruth's always kept herself to herself, but it's hard for her family to accept her suicide, and impossible once a letter she posted to Richard hours before her death arrives sounding anything but suicidal. Chief Inspector Macdonald, tasked with peering into Ruth's romantic affairs and professional secrets, offers an object lesson in how to stiffen everyone's back against the police while maintaining the utmost decorum and sympathy. His path is complicated by a fire that nearly destroys Upwood House and a later pair of poisonings with atropine. In a tale first published in 1936, Lorac keeps everything professional and smartly paced, though she's so determined to make the guilty party appear innocent that sharp-eyed readers will have their perverse suspicions. About average for the British Library Crime Classics series of reprints, which makes it well worth your attention. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.