JOANNA CANNAN – Death at the Dog. Inspector Guy Northeast #2. Victor Gollancz, UK, hardcover, 1940. Reynal & Hitchcock, US, hardcover, 1941. Rue Morgue, US, trade paperback, 1999.

   Six weeks after the beginning of World, War II, a rural squire is found dead in his local pub, The Dog.  Mathew Scaife was hated by just about everyone who knew him, so the consensus of public opinion was that it was good riddance and too bad.

   It couldn’t be put down  to natural causes. His son, Edward, and Edward’s wife, are unhappy because the squire won’t come up with the money to modernize the farm  on which they live with him; Crescy Hardwick is upset because he has given  her notice to vacate the cottage she has fixed up and loved.

   His other son gets along neither with him nor with the upper class villagers. Bert Saunders is also being  turned out of his home. Two: other local couples are  suspects mainly because they were in the lounge bar when  he was killed.

   Detective-Inspector Guy Northeast, C.I.D., is delegated the tasks of sorting out these and other motives and finding an intelligent murderer who must also have access to nicotine, a car sponge, and a horse. Northeast is himself an  interesting character who has had run-ins with the local police force in a previous case, and in this one is fascinated by an older woman.

   Carefully drawn characters,   good local  background, and a skillful   murder method give this mystery high marks. I shall  look around for others by Cannan.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 3, Number 4 (July-August 1980).


Bibliographic Update: There was one earlier case for Inspector Northeast, that being They Rang Up the Police (Gollancz, 1939), that perhaps being the one Maryell refers to in this review. As for the author, she wrote a total of thirteen mysteries between 1929 and 1962; of these, five were cases solved by Inspector Ronald Price.