A 1930s murder mystery
Lady Merryweather has had a shocking year. Apprehended for the murder of her husband the year before, and only recently released, she hopes a trip away from London will allow her to grieve. The isolated, but much loved, Cragside Estate in North Northumberland, home of her friends, Lord and Lady Bradbury, holds special memories for her.
But, no sooner has she arrived than the body of one of the guests is found on the estate, and suspicion immediately turns on her. Perhaps, there are no friendships to be found here, after all.
Released, due to a lack of evidence, Lady Ella returns to Cragside only to discover a second murder has taken place in her absence, and one she can’t possibly have committed.
Quickly realising that these new murders must be related to that of her beloved husband, Lady Merryweather sets out to solve the crime, once and for all. But there are many who don’t want her to succeed, and as the number of murder victims increases, the possibility that she might well be the next victim, can’t be ignored.
Journey to the 1930s Cragside Estate, to a period house-party where no one is truly safe, and the estate is just as deadly as the people.
Lady Ella and Detective Inspector Aldcroft discuss their suspects
“So,” Aldcroft turns to me. “We have a number of suspects who while thinking they have an ally, actually don’t. Miss Lilian Braithwaite is one of them, as are Lord and Lady Bradbury and Mr Hector Alwinton. They were all alone at one point or another yesterday afternoon, after luncheon and before the victim was found.”
“I’m intrigued by the notion that Lord Bradbury heard dogs barking and came to let his hounds inside. Lilian is adamant she arrived back only just as the body was discovered.”
Aldcroft nods, brooding.
“Yes. She might well have returned earlier. Slit our victims throat, and then scampered back along the road way. No one was looking for her. It was expected that she’d be a long time, because the dogs needed a good run, and it’s a fair distance to Cragend quarry and back.”
It always comes back to this. Why had Lady Carver and Mr Harrington-Featherington needed to die? What did they know, or suspect, that made someone so desperate that only their death could make them feel safe?
“There’s been a great deal of speculation that this is all connected to your husband’s death.” There’s sympathy in Aldcroft’s voice. Not many ever show it. Most people believe me guilty. It’s taken my clever solicitor to argue for my innocence, and to pick apart the terrible report that the London detective cobbled together, with all his supposed witnesses.
I turn, hearing the scuff of a boot over the stones, and see my driver, Williams. I’ve not seen him since he returned me to Cragside yesterday, but he seems well enough. That pleases me. I know that Williams isn’t happy with his room in the servants wing. It’s quite distant from the main body of the house.
Williams nods at me. He’s dressed in his usual chauffeur garb. He looks smart but competent. I notice that he has flushed cheeks and mud along his boots and trouser bottoms. Where has he been?
“Detective Inspector,” Williams voice is gruff. He has no love for Aldcroft, and is unaware that we’ve reached an accommodation to help one another. I couldn’t find him earlier to let him know everything that had transpired last evening, and yet I believe he knows enough for I suspect where he’s been.
“I walked to Cragend quarry and back early this morning. I’ve taken all the different routes, past Slipper Lake, and along the carriage drive, and even through the many rock paths. I did find some evidence of dog prints on the higher path, but nowhere else, and yet, I discovered this,” and Williams holds out what can only be the murder weapon, its edge sharp and glistening with menace as he holds it in a white handkerchief, “crammed down the side of one of the rock paths. I’ve marked it and can show you exactly where it was.”
About the Author
MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, as well as three twentieth-century mysteries. Raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the author’s writing destiny was set