cover image Murder in the Mill-Race

Murder in the Mill-Race

E.C.R. Lorac. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-4642-1175-1

In this welcome entry in the British Library Crime Classics series featuring Scotland Yard Chief Insp. Robert Macdonald (originally published in 1952), Lorac (1894–1958) does a fine job evoking the insular dynamics of life in a village whose residents are reluctant to share any information with outsiders. The Yard is called in after the police in North Devon are stymied in their investigation into the death of Monica Torrington, known locally as Sister Monica, who ran a children’s home, Gramarye. Torrington was found drowned in a millrace after apparently being hit in the head with a blunt instrument. Her death occurred in the same spot where one of Gramarye’s maids took her own life a year earlier after becoming pregnant, a circumstance that led to her being treated harshly by Torrington. Despite Torrington’s facade of benevolence and rectitude, Macdonald learns that she was widely unpopular and a poisonous gossip-monger who had surprising financial resources for someone on a fixed income and reputed to live frugally. This is a top-notch, tricky whodunit. (Aug.)