Book Review: Death of a Busybody by George Bellairs

DeathOfABusybodyCoverSynopsis from NetGalley: Miss Tither, the village busybody, is not the best-loved resident of Hilary Magna. She has made many enemies: bombarding the villagers with religious tracts, berating drunkards, and informing the spouses of cheating partners. Her murder, however, is still a huge shock to the Reverend Ethelred Claplady and his parish.

Inspector Littlejohn’s understanding of country ways makes him Scotland Yard’s first choice for the job. Basing himself at the village inn, Littlejohn works with the local police to investigate what lay behind the murder.

A second death does little to settle the collective nerves of the village, and as events escalate, a strange tale of hidden identities, repressed resentment, religious fervour and financial scams is uncovered. Life in the picturesque village of Hilary Magna proves to be very far from idyllic.

 Genre: Mystery, Classic Murder Mystery
A small village in England, probably during the early 1940s. Blackouts are mentioned in the book, and the book was first published in 1943.

***I received a copy of Death of a Busybody from the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, via NetGalley***

***This post contains affiliate links***

Review: A good, solid mystery with enjoyable characters! Death of a Busybody by George Bellairs was a lot of fun. It’s set in a small village, and I just love a small village mystery. One in which all of the characters know each other, and everyone has secrets. It’s one of my favorite mystery settings, and Death of a Busybody didn’t disappoint!

The strength of a small village mystery lies in the characters, and I especially liked the vicar, the Reverend Ethelred Claplady, with his kind heart and love of bees. I also really enjoyed the local law, P.C. Sam Harriwinkle, with his do-good attitude and penchant to always be around when someone was cooking something yummy. You can’t have a small village mystery without the bumbling local law and the village vicar! You also have to have the usual suspects of unsavory characters wandering about the town as well. It was fun to meet everyone, good and bad. The lead character, Inspector Thomas Littlejohn, was likeable and talented, with a knack for popping up when he was most needed!

In terms of the mystery, it was fairly standard, nothing too flashy or convoluted. The pace started out good, and then it lagged a bit, but then it clicked along to the end. I did figure out one of the clues before it was revealed, but that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of this little mystery.

George Bellairs wrote 57 (!) books starring Littlejohn, and I’d like to read more of his adventures. Littlejohn was a capable inspector, who didn’t overshadow the mystery. I believe that Death of a Busybody is actually book 3 of the Littlejohn books, but I don’t think you need to read these books in order. I didn’t get the sense that I was missing anything, and I don’t know how many of the books are actually still being published. Sounds like most of these books might be a library sale treasure hunt! Death of a Busybody is actually just being republished now, and there is another recent publication, which is two books in one: The Dead Shall Be Raised and Murder of a Quack.

One aspect to Death of a Busybody that I really liked was at the end of the book, you really got a sense of closure to the mystery. Bellairs explains what happens to basically everyone that was a player in the plot, and this was nice to read. You find out what happens to the bad guys, and what happens to peripheral characters. No wondering what happened to so-and-so here!

Bottom Line: An enjoyable mystery with a classic feel and a charming setting.

LINKS  **Amazon links are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you purchase anything**

Death of a Busybody   Amazon   Goodreads
The Dead Shall Be Raised & Murder of a Quack   Amazon |   Goodreads

And here’s a link to Poisoned Pen Press, the publisher’s page, and it talks a bit more about Death of a Busybody, and even has Chapter 1 online for you to read as well!

How does this mystery sound? Do you love a small village mystery? What is your favorite mystery setting? Which is your favorite small village character?

*** I am away from my blog for a bit, as I’m off in the woods without any internet, so it may take a few days for me to respond to comments! But I will respond!***


7 thoughts on “Book Review: Death of a Busybody by George Bellairs

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, Ami! I have to say I’m not a fan of small town mysteries but I can see their appeal. It’s just that sometimes they feel a tad too formulaic? It takes a skilled author not to make everyone and everything feel weird and just more of the same, which I think was accomplished here.
    Wonderful review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!! That’s an interesting point about small town mysteries. They do have their set characters! I think part of the reason why I enjoy the small town setting is that I’d love to live in a small town like that. At least for just a short time – I don’t think I’d enjoy it once I was actually living in that setting – I like my anonymity too much, but I do enjoy reading it!


    1. Isn’t that cover beautiful?? They’ve really done an excellent job with the covers for the British Library Crime Classics. And of course someone with the name of Miss Tither would be the village busybody 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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