William F. Deeck

WILLIAM GORE – There’s Death In The Churchyard. George G. Harrap, UK, hardcover,1934. No US publication.

   Pondersby Jonson becomes ill in the church at Sutton Eacham. When helped out of the church after the services by his host, Captain Stoyner, squire of the village, Jonson expires, but not before accusing his host of having murdered him.

   Stoyner and Jonson had had a fierce argument the night before; Stoyner possessed the poison used to commit the murder; Jonson, a financial ‘shark’ from the city, was trying to do down the good captain; Stoyner was the only one who could have administered the poison if what he says about the poison is true.

   It seems like an open-and-shut case. The villagers are all convinced that the squire did it, although their opinion is that the murder was certainly justifiable. Stoyner puts up no defence at the coroner’s hearing, his opinion being that if the jurors don’t want to believe a chap with his breeding, background, and record, so much the worse for them. They don’t justify his faith.

   During the trial itself, he will not allow himself to be defended by a barrister. If it costs £2000 for an obviously, or so he claims, innocent man to be found not guilty, then there really isn’t any justice.

   Luckily, this rather headstrong and proud man has a few believers and supporters. The vicar, married to Stoyner’s sister-in-law, finally spots, during one of his tedious sermons, how and why the murder was committed.

   This is a well-plotted, well-written, and amusing novel, with an unusually true-to-life private detective. It also has one of the few acceptable children in the genre, which makes it worth reading on that count alone.

— Reprinted from CADS 20, 1993. Email Geoff Bradley for subscription information.


WILLIAM GORE: pseudonym of Jan Gordon, 1882-1944.

   There’s Death in the Churchyard. Harrap, UK, 1934.
   Death in the Wheelbarrow. Harrap, UK, 1935; Mystery House, US, 1940 as by Jan Gordon. [Insp. Ernest Penk]
   Murder Most Artistic. Harrap, UK, 1937; published in the US by Doubleday, 1938. [Insp. Ernest Penk]