CHRISTIANNA BRAND – Death in High Heels. Inspector Charlesworth #1. John Lane/The Bodley Head, UK, hardcover, 1941. Scribner, US, hardcover, 1942. Carroll & Graf, US, paperback, 1989. Film: Marylebone, UK, 1947 (with Don Stannard as Inspector Charlesworth).

   A great title for foot fetishists, but it turns out that footwear has nothing to do with the story. This was Ms. Brand’s debut novel, and does not feature her series detective Inspector Cockrill.

   Miss Doon, one of two chief assistants to a Mr. Bevan (and one of his many bedmates) who owns and operates an exclusive Dress Shop, dies from oxalic poisoning (Oxalic apparently being used to clean hats), and it turns out that most of her associates who had Opportunity for the crime also had Motive. Young Inspector Charlesworth, one of those innumerable upper-class policemen of the “Golden Age” of British Mysteries, is assigned to the case and immediately develops a crush on the chief suspect, a married saleswoman.

   A good example of the Classie British Mystery Novel (though not a great one} with credible characters, some humor — including a chapter where Charlesworth becomes convinced that one of the suspects has killed his (the suspect’s) boyfriend and put his body in a trunk at the Lost and Found – and enough witty dialogue to get over the quiet parts.

— Reprinted from A Shropshire Sleuth #71, May 1995.

      The Inspector Charlesworth series –

Death in High Heels (n.) Lane 1941
Death of Jezebel (n.) Bodley Head 1949 [with Inspector Cockrill]
London Particular (n.) Joseph 1952 [with Inspector Cockrill]
The Rose in Darkness (n.) Joseph 1979