Friday 3 November 2023

The Nodding Canaries

Finished October 28
The Nodding Canaries by Gladys Mitchell

This book is part of a long series that I've not read before. The Nodding Canaries is the 34th book in the series, but it seems like you don't need to read them in order to enjoy them. This book was originally published in 1961, shortly after it was allowed that female teachers could be married. The banter and slang used is dated, and in one or two cases offensive as current terminology. The sleuth here is Dame Beatrice Lestrange Bradley, who is a psychiatrist who works for the Home Office in England. 
Here she is called to Nodding by Alice Boorman, a schoolteacher that is a longtime friend. Laura Gavin, Bradley's secretary, is a childhood friend of Alice's. Alice has recently applied to run for Organizer of the area, a much-sought after position by teachers. She has been shortlisted along with two other teachers, and she offered to host them around the interview time as they lived further away, one from Devonshire, and one from Scotland. 
Before the late afternoon interviews, the women toured the town, seeing the cathedral, the market, and some historical sites. One suggested the historical site of Pigmy's Ladder, a prehistoric flint mine. Alice did not accompany the other women into the mine as she had already been and felt claustrophobic, but when they didn't reemerge at the appointed time the site manager called for help and the women were found and taken to the hospital for their condition. Alice feels that a past past-time of hers makes her a possible suspect to them and has asked Dame Bradley to find out the truth behind the incident. 
This incident leads to a missing male teacher, his questionable past, historical artifacts, and the local archaeological society. 
This is a mystery with much twists and turns. Dame Bradley is a force to be reckoned with, and the men here defer to her with little hesitation. The mystery itself is complex and dates back some time, with a variety of suspects and motives to keep the reader guessing. 

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