Duck Season Death by June Wright (c.1955)

Athol Sefton, publisher of the quarterly magazine “Culture and Critic”, is shot dead whilst duck hunting. Whilst the local police are happy to treat it as an accident, his nephew Charles is convinced that it is murder and using skills learned from reviewing detective fiction decides to solve the case himself.

He rapidly finds that there is no shortage of suspects staying with him at The Duck and Dog Inn, some of whom may be better shots than they let on. At first nobody takes him seriously, but when they do he begins to wish they had not as he changes from hunter to hunted.

There is no shortage of deliberate humour in this send-up of the genre but there was a sudden shift in tone towards the end that caught me by surprise so that the final solution was different to what I was expecting. Perhaps it just goes to show that ultimately murder is no laughing matter.

Although Hutchinson and Co. had published three books by Wright (including Murder in the Telephone Exchange and The Devil’s Caress) this manuscript was rejected and remained unpublished until 2015. Whilst quite different from those books there is no obvious reason for their decision. I enjoyed both the humour and the mystery and overall from reading four Wright titles it is clear that she was a versatile writer who was unafraid to try different thing. She recovered from this setback to create Mother Paul who appeared in three books from 1958-1966.

Vintage Mystery Challenge

Fulfils “What – Comic/humorous novel”.




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