Friday 2 November 2018

Forgotten Book - And Death Came Too

Richard Hull is known to crime fans as a follower in the footsteps of Francis Iles, an exponent of the ironic mystery in stories such as The Murder of My Aunt and Excellent Intentions, both of which have appeared in the British Library's Crime Classics series this year. So it is interesting to turn to And Death Came Too, one of his most obscure titles, first published in 1942. It's as close as he came to writing a conventional whodunit.

The main setting is the Welsh county of Treve, and many of the key moments take place in a house called Y Bryn. Although I'm not absolutely certain, I strongly suspect that here Hull was re-using the locale of The Murder of My Aunt, and in particular fictionalising his family home of Dysserth. Four young people are invited by a man called Arthur Yeldham to Y Bryn, but when they turn up, Yeldham is nowhere to be seen. Instead they encounter a sardonic fellow called Salter and a rather strange woman, who says very little. And then it turns out that Yeldham is in the house, after all. He has been stabbed to death.

The local police get involved, and they are rather nicely characterised, in particular the Chief Constable and a slow-moving but rather appealing cop called Scoresby. Hull shifts from one viewpoint to another as it emerges that Yeldham was a school teacher, and that quite a number of people had reason to wish him dead.

It's a rather meandering story, but although it's not one of those cunningly structured novels of psychological suspense in which Hull specialised, it is quite entertaining. Hull had a leisurely writing style, and as a result, the tension doesn't mount quite as much as one might hope; I have to say that I had a good idea of the culprit's identity early on, though the motive remained obscure for some time. A second murder occurs, and there is a classic gathering of the suspects before all is revealed. This is a novel with some good moments and several amusing lines, even if it doesn't rank with Hull's best work.


Jason Half said...

Hi Martin -- So glad to see this review of AND DEATH CAME TOO. It's been a little while since I read it, but I quite liked it, and I absolutely agree that it's likely his closest book to adhere to conventional whodunit form. I've got about four Hull titles left to read on the list, but so far only INVITATION TO AN INQUEST was thoroughly uninteresting; the rest all had some merit, and nearly all were entertaining. Glad to see Hull titles back in reprint! Best wishes with your writing and reading -- Jason

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Jason, always good to hear from you. I agree about Invitation to an Inquest. It's a long time since I read it, but it didn't appeal to me, that I do recall.