Saturday, 7 September 2013

Swanton Morley Is…

  1. A village in Norfolk
  2. A character in a mystery story set in the 1930’s
  3. An anagram of “Royal Townsmen”
  4. The location of our bungalow, Cornerstones

It is, in truth, all four of the above. Back in July, when I was in the bungalow [alone, late at night] I heard the Radio 4 announcer declare that Book at Bedtime was to be ‘A Norfolk Mystery’ by Ian Sansom, the story of a mysterious death, solved by the writer Swanton Morley. I nearly dropped my mug of hot chocolate!

norfolk mysteryI was too tired to listen, I had spent the day shifting almost a ton of sand and was desperate to get into bed. But last week I saw the book in our library.

So being a lover of [a] mystery stories [b] Norfolk in general [c] Swanton Morley in particular I borrowed the book.

It is…unusual…quirky…downright bizarre in places. I think I enjoyed it. It involves the death of the Rector of Blakeney.

Morley is planning to write a series of County Guides, so begins in Norfolk – but gets rather distracted when he discovers the parson hanging in a back room in the church. He abandons his work on the guide in order to uncover the truth, along with his assistant, the constantly bemused Stephen Sefton.

In terms of information about the history and legends of Norfolk, and a million other bits of trivia, it is quite informative. I wasn’t over enamoured with the actual plot, as there seemed to be a few ‘holes’ in it. There is the classic device of the denouement at the end, when all key persons are assembled to hear the revelations of Mr Morley [declared, appropriately, in the Parish Church] 

kings england norfolkThere are photographs too, taken from Arthur Mee’s “King’s England” [a famous set of County Guides written by AM, a Baptist ‘worthy’ back in the 30s]

I used to own a copy of the Norfolk one once…wonder where it went?

Having finished the book, I have a number of unanswered questions 

  • Is Sansom planning to write 38 more of these books?
  • Will he use pictures from Mee’s opus in future mysteries?
  • Will Swanton Morley feature in all of them?
  • If he had started in Leicestershire, what would he have called his hero? Ab Kettleby, Eyres Monsell, Burton Lazars, Wigston Parva…or even Kirby Muxloe!

I am still uncertain about my final rating for this book – I think probably [and only because it’s set in Norfolk, and I am very fond of the places about which he writes] it will just about merit  ****

1 comment:

  1. He has written a couple of books about murders on or involved with mobile libraries, I tried one - it was terrible! might try him again with this one, long waiting list at the moment though.


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!