Friday, 2 September 2016

Forgotten Book - Murder with Relish

Murder with Relish was the first novel written by C.Lindsay Taylor, and the only one to appear under that name. Constance Lindsay Taylor subsequently adopted the pen-name Guy Cullingford, and earned considerable admiration for a small number of books written with some distinction, the most famous of which by far is Post Mortem, a novel which counts Peter Lovesey (and me) among its numerous admirers.

Murder with Relish appeared in 1948, when its author was already in her mid-forties; she'd started out with journalism and poetry, but marriage and raising a family seems to have kept her fully occupied for some years before she tried her hand at a novel. Alternatively, the fact that the story is set in the mid-Thirties may suggest that she started work on it long before the publication date.

The story concerns a cook, Mrs Bonnet (who has never actually been married; those were the days when it was thought to be courteous to confer honorary marital status on a senior member of domestic staff) who has served the Everard family for many years. Her world is turned upside down when her employer, a widow, dies after a family meal .Mrs Bonnet suspects murder (though nobody else does) and turns detective with a view to achieving justice for her late employer.

This is a witty and unusual story, which affords considerable insight into the class divide in British society at the time. Even though it's a first novel, you can tell that the author is a novelist of genuine talent. I really enjoyed this story, and can recommend it. As for Taylor/Cullingford, she eventually earned election to the Detection Club, and Peter Lovesey recalls appreciating her company at Club dinners. She was born in 1903, and died as recently as 2000. An interesting writer, who deserves to be better known.

6 comments:

lisa shevin said...

I have several guy cullingfords , including conjuror's coffin and the whipping boys. Thanks for the background info

J F Norris said...

Uncanny! I wrote about one of her "Guy Cullingford" books today. I ordered this one right after reading Conjurer's Coffin and managed to snag the only one with a DJ. My review for MURDER WITH RELISH coming later this month. Forgive me if I didn't read this post at all. You'll understand, I'm sure. ;^)

Graham Powell said...

Apparently there's a Kindle version as by Guy Cullingford. Looks like an interesting read.

Jonathan said...

Hey Martin, just wondering what 'Murder with Relish' is like in terms of its puzzle? I looked it up on my local Kindle store, and there's a copy released by Orion/ Murder Room - but its cover is green, which suggests thriller rather than mystery?

Jonathan said...

Hey Martin, thanks for the recommendation. Just wondering what 'Murder with Relish' is like in terms of its puzzle? I found a copy on my local Kindle store, published by Orion/ Murder Room - but its cover is green, which suggests thriller rather than mystery?

Martin Edwards said...

Very interesting comments - thanks as ever. Jonathan, I'd say that the puzzle element is reasonably good, but that there is quite a bit more to the book than the puzzle. It's not what I'd call a thriller; in fact, it verges at times on psychological suspense - you might even call it 30s domestic noir!