In the English countryside, one of the well-mannered guests at Pigeonsford Estate may be a murderer in this series debut by an Edgar Award–nominated author.
As war rages in Europe, the citizens of London flee to the country. At Pigeonsford, a group of guests plays cards, drinks tea, and acts polite—but Grace Morland knows the strong emotions that lurk beneath the placid social surface. She’s painfully in love with Stephen Pendock, the squire of Pigeonsford, but Pendock’s smitten with young beauty Francesca Hart. One afternoon, Fran debuts a new hat, and Grace’s jealousy gets the better of her. She exclaims, “I wouldn’t be seen dead in a ditch in a thing like that!” She will soon be proven wrong. Grace is found dead with the hat on her head—and her head removed from her neck. To the scene comes the incomparable Inspector Cockrill, who finds that far more than petty jealousy lies beneath this hideous murder.
“You have to reach for the greatest of Great Names to find Brand’s rivals in the subtleties of the trade.” —The New York Times “One of the great masters of English detective fiction.” —Francis M. Nevins, author of Cornell Woolrich: First You Dream, Then You Die “[Brand] was ready to jig endlessly with her pieces, to reject and replace until there was not a single gap that her reader would detect.” —H. R. F. Keating, author of Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books
“Christianna Brand is not merely a purveyor of thrills or a maker of puzzles. She is a novelist.” —Daily Telegraph
Christianna Brand (1907–1988) was one of the most popular authors of the Golden Age of British mystery writing. Born in Malaya and raised in India, Brand used her experience as a salesgirl as inspiration for her first novel, Death in High Heels (1941), which she based on a fantasy of murdering an irritating coworker. The same year, she debuted her most famous character, Inspector Cockrill, whose adventures she followed until 1957. The film version of the second Cockrill mystery, Green for Danger, is considered one of the best-ever screen adaptations of a classic English mystery.
Brand also found success writing children’s fiction. Her Nurse Matilda series, about a grotesque nanny who tames ill-behaved children, was adapted for the screen in 2005 as Nanny McPhee. Brand received Edgar Award nominations for the short stories “Twist for Twist” and “Poison in the Cup,” as well as a nomination for her nonfiction work Heaven Knows Who.