What Dread Hand? (Christianna Brand)

Fifteen short stories by one of the Queens of Crime – enough to pass an entertaining couple of hours.

There are three notable stories. “The Hornets’ Nest” is a tight, clever poisoning at a wedding breakfast.  The reader, Brand tells him, should know whodunnit the page after the murder.  “After the Event” is a theatrical murder: blackmailing Desdemona strangled.  I remembered the false solution (father and son play each other’s roles) more than the real one (blackening Othello’s name).  At one time, I thought “Murder Game” (aka “The Gemminy Crickets Case”) brilliant; it isn’t.  It’s a workmanlike story, rather long and overly speculative.  I also thought it involved a crane (I was thinking of an Inspector Morse), and the narrator killed the old man at the end.

The rest are Ilesian suspense stories, with a sardonic twist at the end.  Insert your own enthusiasm.


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