Death Walks In Eastrepps by Francis Beeding

Death Walks In EastreppsWelcome to Eastrepps, a lovely town on the Norfolk coast. A perfect destination for that summer getaway, with plenty of healthy sea air. And a rather unhealthy serial killer, the Eastrepps Evil! People are being found dead all over the place and Inspector Wilkins from the Yard is summoned. His attention is drawn to the obvious local nut-case (not a technical term) but perhaps someone else is just as insane but is better at hiding it. Or perhaps there is a very sane motive behind the killings…

In the village is Robert Eldridge, a man with two secrets. The first is scandalous for the time – he is having a liaison with a married woman who lives in Eastrepps. Yes, she’s planning to divorce her husband, but even so, let’s hope nobody finds out! Or that anyone finds out the secret about his previous identity where he swindled countless people out of their life-savings. Oddly, a number of them live in Eastrepps. Even more oddly, some of them seem to have been murdered…

I only heard of Frances Beeding from the recommended reading list for The Bodies From The Library conference but couldn’t find a copy of The Norwich Victims. Odd that, as I’ve found dozens since – maybe I spelled Norwich wrong in the search engine. Rather glad that I did though, as this one is an absolute cracker. So glad that I read this one.

By the way, Beeding was two people, Hilary St George Sanders (is the St George a middle name? how classy!) and John Palmer, both authors in their own right but their collaborations seem to be best known.

It’s been accused of being an early breaker of Robert Knox’s Decalogue of rules for detective fiction which is absolutely true. I’m not convinced that it breaks the rule that people think it does though, although this one is heavily bent. It certainly breaks the one about clues not being revealed to the reader as the main (possibly only) clue comes from a visual thing that is only explained after the fact. And it breaks another one too, but I’m not going to say that one. It’s one that Michael Jecks breaks all the time though, and I have absolutely no problems with that one.

I’m not sure how many other books Inspector Wilkins features in, but he’s probably the weakest link, coming across about as exciting as Inspector Alleyn with less of the brain-power (until the finale where he either works it out incredibly quickly, or he’s suspected something for a while, so why did he … SPOILER). But while my copy advertises this as an Inspector Wilkins mystery, in many ways the character is redundant so his dullness never proves to be a problem.

It’s fair to say that I really enjoyed this one. Highly Recommended and I look forward to The Norwich Victims.

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19 comments

  1. The Norwich Victims is listed on Amazon.co.uk, with one very cheap for Kindle. There are also several others there by Beeding.

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  2. Both Norwich Victims and Death Walks In Eastrepps are superb books of mystery and suspense and should be read by mystery fans.
    The Norwich Victims seems an EDITED FOR POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

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    • Thank you for that – now when I read Norwich Victims, I will read it in an entirely different way that the author did not intend thanks to this comment. Just say that it’s a good book, don’t give hints like that. It spoils books for other readers.

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      • True (and an impressive memory btw). However at that point, Beeding was nowhere on my radar and as such, I almost immediately forgot the comment. This time, as I said, I WAS planning on reading The Norwich Victims and so the comment is pretty much ingrained in my head now.

        You could make a good case that I committed the same sin with The Tournament Of Blood review – I probably can’t say if I did unless I read more inverted mysteries – but my rationale there, such as it is, was that a couple of people had commented elsewhere that, while they enjoyed Michael’s other works, they had given up with this one due to the lack of mystery. I know, that’s probably double standards, but the fact remains that I was looking forward to The Norwich Victims and now I’m not.

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      • Isn’t it possible that since you do not like inverted mystery genre, you might have given up after reading a few chapters ?

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      • I didn’t give up on the Tournament of Blood as I trust the author. And I was intending to read this because it is a well regarded example of the genre which others have recommended to me as a good read without hinting at the ending. I know we have different standards regarding spoilers – I even try and avoid blurbs when I can – but I hope you see my point here.

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      • No, I don’t see your point. There is no spoiler in what I wrote.
        If you are so concerned that you should know nothing about a book before reading it, then you should stop reading any review whatsoever. After all, every review will certainly mention many things more than just that it is good or bad !

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  3. Some other excellent examples of the traditional mystery by Francis Beeding are:

    HE COULD NOT HAVE SLIPPED
    THE SLEEPING BACCHUS (though only one half of the Beeding team wrote it)

    Maybe you might want to track those down, Steve. If I find any others I’ll let you know. As I’ve said before most of the Beeding books are adventure or espionage thrillers with little actual detective work. And those that aspire to be detective novels with the emphasis on the search for an unnamed murderer usually turn into inverted detective novels along the way. I own all but five of the Beeding books but I’ve not made my way through half of them yet.

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  4. I’ve intended to read this one for about three years now…and manage to read other books instead. I’m glad to see you enjoyed it–it encourages me to keep it at the top of the pile.

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