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A man dies on the operating table, and Inspector Cockrill suspects murderAs German V-1 rockets rain down on the English countryside, the men and women of the military hospitals fight to stay calm. The morning after a raid, Doctor Barnes prepares for a routine surgery to repair a postman’s broken leg. But with general anesthesia, there is always danger. Before the first incision is made, the postman turns purple. Barnes and his nurses do what they can, but the patient is dead in minutes. The coroner calls for an inquest. Barnes has a history of lost patients, and cannot afford more trouble. Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Cockrill is unimpressed by the staff at the hospital, which he finds a nest of jealousy, indiscretion, and bitterness. One of them, doctor or nurse, murdered the postman—and it won’t be long before they kill again.
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.
Inspector Cockrill’s dull vacation is jolted by a Mediterranean murderFrom the moment he steps on the plane, Inspector Cockrill loathes his fellow travelers. They are typical tour group bores: the dullards of England whom he had hoped to escape by going to Italy. He gives up on the trip immediately, burying his nose in a mystery novel to ensure that no one tries to become his friend. But not long after the group makes landfall at the craggy isle of San Juan el Pirata, a murder demands his attention. The body of a woman is found laid out carefully on her bed, blood pooled around her and fingers wrapped around the dagger that took her life. The corrupt local police force, impatient to find a killer, names Cockrill chief suspect. To escape the Italian hangman, the detective must find out who would go on vacation to kill a stranger.
Collection of all the Inspector Cockrill short mysteries
Fifteen perfectly constructed tales of death both well-planned and chaoticMr. de Silva begins the day sipping his coffee, reading the Times, and trying to decide how to murder his wife. After two years of marriage, he’s simply fed up, and has decided to move on to someone younger, slimmer, and prettier. The trouble is, he wants to keep his wife’s money. Killing her is the neatest solution. So begins “The Rose,” a three-page masterpiece that was the first story Christianna Brand ever wrote for publication. Over the next half-century she would write dozens of novels and countless short stories, proving again and again her genius for crisp characterization, witty dialogue, and timely bits of violence. This collection holds some of her finest early work—tales of murders committed for money, jealousy, or simply for something to do. Though the crimes often go awry, there is nothing quite so charming as a vintage Brand homicide.
A London writer falls into a trap of romance and false identityKatinka Jones spends her days beautifying, trying out the latest ointments, corsets, and creams in order to pass the information on to the thankful readers of Girls Together. When not immersed in a mud bath, she answers advice letters, and none are so compelling as those of Amista, a Welsh girl in love with a modern-day Heathcliff. Amista’s dramatic stories and beautiful descriptions of her village spark Tinka’s interest. For her next holiday, Tinka travels to Wales, where she finds that beauty-product salesmen aren’t the only people who lie. No one in Pentre Trist has heard of Amista, and no one will admit to writing the letters. As she tries to learn the identity of her pen pal, Tinka stumbles into an ancient Welsh mystery. The letters may have been lies, but the danger they described is all too real.
Inspector Cockrill is called in to solve the murder of a most unpopular BelgianFew were disappointed when Raoul Vernet was found with his head bashed in, dead in a pool of his own blood. On vacation in England, the Belgian seducer comes to visit Matilda, an old flame from a few years before. She agrees despite suspicions that Vernet has been deploying his legendary charm on another member of the family: young Rosie, who has returned from her Swiss boarding school carrying a child. None of the family members were in the house when Raoul was killed, but all were within a fog-choked London mile. Rosie calls in the brilliant Inspector Cockrill to clear the family’s name, but what he finds is a twisted clan of seven people, each as likely to laugh at a murder as commit one.

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