Death Walks in Eastrepps (1931) by Francis Beeding Revisited

Today is the third time I have read this book, and the second time that I have reviewed it. I don’t think I have re-read a mystery novel that many times before, there being so many new-to-me books to try for the first time.

If you would like to know what the novel is about and what my previous thoughts on it have been, then you can click here.

But on read number three what further can I add?

Well it remains one of the best serial killer mysteries that I have read providing complexity and intricacy, both morally and in terms of the crimes being committed. Details and characters dovetail well together, whilst Beeding is still able to rack up the tension as the killings continue. In this I would say Beeding’s novel is superior to some of Philip Macdonald’s attempts.

In my last review I commented on the Francis-Iles-like ending and it is definitely one that lingers with you, once you’ve read it. It is the sort of denouement which could have gone in many different directions and I am intrigued as to why the writer decided upon this particular one. With its stark finale, this is a mystery which defies some of the stereotypes attached to detective stories written during the Golden Age.

It is hard not to look ahead to The ABC Murders, which was published 5 years later; another example of how to do a serial killer mystery well. Both books include a different type of motivation for their murderer’s killing spree, yet on reflection it is interesting how they make use of an obvious/scapegoat suspect, as their handling of such a character differs. Martin Edwards, in his own review of Beeding’s novel, reminds us that Macdonald and Christie’s efforts are predated by this title, so it is interesting to speculate on how much of blueprint Beeding’s mystery offered later writers.

So unsurprisingly I am still recommending this book and fortunately due it to being included in the Arcturus Crime Classic series, second-hand copies are usually easy to find. I would also advocate reading another book they reprinted by Beeding called The Norwich Victims (1931). It is interesting that both books came out in the same year and are of the same high quality. What caused Beeding to have such a bumper year?

I would also like to know of any other good books written by him, as I have seen reviews for other titles, yet they have not been ones warmly recommended.

10 comments

  1. Beeding was two people, a partnership. It’s interesting how many partnerships there were in GAD. Useful to have someone to test your logic perhaps?

    I liked this one, and agree it’s better than the MacDonalds. I especially liked the evocation of life in the small town.

    1931 was a very good year in general for crime fiction I think.

    Which books have made the three time list? I cannot think of a puzzle based mystery I have read three times (the memory isn’t that bad yet!) but I can think of a few others mysteries. All of Hammett, one Chandler (more to come), some of Doyle, a couple by Stout.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Primarily known for their espionage and wartime adventure books the two men who wrote as Beeding have too few books that would appeal to the usual gang of devotees of traditional detective novels. I personally enjoyed the Colonel Granby books I read over the years. But they tend not to get reviewed favorably by this blogging crowd. Ah well… I’ve always said my tastes are too eclectic. And perhaps substandard way too often. I love to slum around in schlocky thrillers every now and then. As I’ve said many a time my bookstore and blog were named in honor of Granby’s favorite exclamation. So he will always have a special place among my personal favorite mystery characters. Some Beeding books outside of the Granby series worth tracking down are: Murder Intended, The Street of Serpents (aka Mr. Bobadil), He Could Not Have Slipped and The House of Dr Edwardes —if only to see how it was transformed into the fine Hitchcock movie Spellbound.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the suggestions. I don’t mind the thriller/suspense per say, but probably less keen on certain styles of them such as those which lean more towards espionage/military adventure.
      Have you had the chance to look at my 36 Most Read in 1936 poll yet? I am sure you will have read quite a few of them, not least because I found some of the titles from reviews on your blog!

      Like

  3. Thanks for the review – I suppose you belong to the same book club as Puzzle Doctor, since he, too, reviewed it again despite having read it before?

    I’ve fond memories of both “Eastrepps” and “Norwich” – on a rare stroke of luck I managed to anticipate the twists to bothof them. But they were more like lucky guesses than actual deductions, I daresay. From memory the one that’s actually clue-d is “Eastrepps”?

    Liked by 1 person

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