The Longer Bodies

How an athletics competition for an inheritance ends in murder

The Longer Bodies was the third of 66 Mrs Bradley mysteries
The Longer Bodies was the third
of 66 Mrs Bradley mysteries
Mrs Beatrice Lestrange Bradley, an unusual psychoanalyst with a flair for sleuthing, manages to appear at exactly the right time and in the right place to be in on the murder investigation in this third novel by Gladys Mitchell.

She is staying as a house guest in the village of Little Longer, where two mysterious deaths have occurred. When she is told about what has happened, she seamlessly becomes part of the investigation.

A wealthy old lady, known to her family as Great Aunt Puddequet, has invited her grand nephews to stay at her country house, accompanied by their sisters, so that the males can take part in a sporting contest to enable her to decide who will inherit her fortune.

She spares no expense by having an athletics track laid in her grounds, complete with long jump pit and practice areas for the high jump and pole vault, and she employs a German athletics coach.

But when the dead body of a man is found in the lake in the grounds, the police launch a murder  investigation. Mrs Bradley, who is staying with friends and neighbours of Great Aunt Puddequet, wastes no time in visiting the house to view the place where the man died and can’t resist dropping helpful little hints to the investigating officer, Inspector Bloxham.

This third Mrs Bradley mystery by Gladys Mitchell was first published in 1930 by Victor Gollanz. Gladys was a school teacher and athletics coach for many years and so she is able to describe in detail the highly unusual setting for the story.

Mitchell combined writing with a career in teaching
Mitchell combined writing with
a career in teaching
The book is populated with a wonderful array of bizarre characters , such as the ancient, screeching Great Aunt Puddequet in her bath chair and her gentile lady companion, Miss Caddick, who takes a liking to the young German athletics coach.

There are strange clues, such as javelins dipped in blood suddenly appearing, although no one is actually training for the javelin, and Great Aunt Puddequet’s beloved pet rabbits occasionally disappear and then reappear.

After another murder happens in the grounds of the country house, the Inspector jumps from one suspect to another, while Mrs Bradley patiently tries to lead him to the correct solution, keeping a surprise up her sleeve until the very end.

Gladys Mitchell was a teacher of History, English and Games at St Paul’s School, Brentford, and later taught at St Ann’s Senior Girls School in Hanwell. Her first novel, Speedy Death, was published in 1929 and she continued to write while teaching, completing at least one book a year. She taught at Brentford School for Girls and Matthew Arnold School, Staines, where she coached hurdling and wrote the school play each year.

She retired in 1961 and went to live in Dorset, where she continued to write until her death at the age of 82. Gladys Mitchell wrote a total of 66 Mrs Bradley novels and published other novels under various pseudonyms.

The Longer Bodies is currently available from Waterstones as a paperback and as an e-book from Amazon.

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