Review – Post After Post-Mortem

Posted October 30, 2023 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – Post After Post-Mortem

Post After Post-Mortem

by E.C.R. Lorac

Genres: Crime, Mystery
Pages: 300
Series: British Library Crime Classics
Rating: four-stars

The Surrays and their five children form a prolific writing machine, with scores of treatises, reviews and crime thrillers published under their family name. Following a rare convergence of the whole household at their Oxfordshire home, Ruth – middle sister who writes ‘books which are just books’ – decides to spend some weeks there recovering from the pressures of the writing life while the rest of the brood scatter to the winds again. Their next return is heralded by the tragic news that Ruth has taken her life after an evening at the Surrays’ hosting a set of publishers and writers, one of whom is named as Ruth’s literary executor in the will she left behind.

Despite some suspicions from the family, the verdict at the inquest is suicide – but when Ruth’s brother Richard receives a letter from the deceased which was delayed in the post, he enlists the help of CID Robert Macdonald to investigate what could only be an ingeniously planned murder.

I normally love E.C.R. Lorac’s books, and I think this was a very fine example of her work… without being one that I, strictly speaking, enjoyed. She has a way of describing characters and places that can make you love them and feel their goodness — and in this book, the nastiness of murder feels particularly prominent. It’s less “good people overcome” and more “good people are overcome”, and it just hit wrong for my current mood, despite being well handled.

Those who read it should be warned that the setup has the murder being taken to be suicide at first, and that the family react accordingly, with shock and horror and the sense that the world is upended. And that isn’t the end to their sorrows.

It’s a good thing that Lorac writes such a sensitive, humane detective in MacDonald, because his sympathy also helped to make this book as powerful as it is.

In the end, the solution was also a sad one, and the whole thing just left me with a sense of melancholy. Beautifully written, perhaps among Lorac’s best — but perhaps not one that I’ll visit again.

Rating: 4/5

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