A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
A secret society of Oxford students meet at the river Cherwell to enact a silly little ritual only freshman could dream up. They mean to curse the despised college bursar by tossing some sanctified silver rings into the water. Imagine their surprise when, at the all important moment, their bursar’s corpse comes floating past them in a canoe.
Death on the Cherwell is the first book I’ve read in the British Library’s new series of rediscovered crime classics and it’s got me all keyed up to start reading the others, especially Murder Underground, an earlier Mavis Doriel Hay novel. Death on the Cherwell is just about everything you might expect from a golden age classic. It’s got a very well-rendered—and very British—setting in an Oxford women’s college of the ’30s. It’s got a team of charming amateur detectives who get a little help from Scotland Yard. It’s also got a twisty little mystery that will keep you guessing.
Light, breezy reading perfect for a mystery buff’s summer weekend. It might not equal Christie or Sayers at their best, but if you’ve read all that and want something in the same vein, you won’t go wrong with Death on the Cherwell.
Review by Matthew