Wednesday, 6 August 2008

New Graves at Great Norne

I’ve mentioned before my admiration for that under-estimated crime writer Henry Wade, and during my recent holiday I read a couple more of his novels. New Graves at Great Norne was published just after the end of the Second World War, but is set just before the war began. Wade’s previous book, Lonely Magdalen, was quite superb; set in London, it charts a police investigation into the murder of a prostitute. This novel is very different – a tale of a sequence of murders in East Anglia, the backdrop for that excellent 1930s serial killer novel by Francis Beeding, Death Walks in Eastrepps.

The first person to die in the story is the vicar of Great Norne. His apparently accidental death is followed by a possible suicide, and there is more work for the undertaker when a third member of the community is killed in a fire. Before the puzzle is solved, two more people fall victim to a ruthless murderer.

New Graves makes effective use of an East Anglian setting similar to that employed in an earlier, equally impressive, Wade novel, Mist on the Saltings. As usual, Wade handles the description of police work with quiet authority; the relationship between the local cops and the Scotland Yard men is portrayed subtly, and in an entirely credible way.

I enjoyed this book. It has long been out of print in the UK, but it stands up well to scrutiny, more than sixty years after first publication. There are suspects and red herrings aplenty, and the detective work is sound. But the greatest strength of this highly readable story lies in its depiction of a small community ripped apart by murder.


Juliet said...

East Anglia? Mist? Saltings? Sounds like my kind of book! Is it easy to find second-hand?

Martin Edwards said...

There are a couple of cheap copies of each book on Abe - only snag is that the sellers are in the US, so postage is a bit higher. But they are both enjoyable books which have stood the test of time better than many other crime novels of similar vintage.
I'm still trying to remember the Andrew Garve book which is set in Mersea!

Juliet said...

Will go check out Abe. And please keep on trying re the Mersea book!!