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The Oleander Press

Casual Slaughters

Casual Slaughters

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“What’s this?” exclaimed the Rector, and added, before I had time to answer: “God bless my soul! I'd forgotten the Flower Show.”
So had I. We looked at each other in frank amazement. It seemed impossible that one medium-sized decapitated body should have availed to drive out of our heads an event in village life of such outstanding importance.

Who would have given credence that a simple resolution, made by Bishop Pecheford’s P.C.C. to keep new graves level and to tidy the churchyard’s existing grassy mounds, could spark such a grisly new chapter in local history?

The sexton’s discovery of a man’s hand, before his headless body is later uncovered from Sarah Mant’s grave, causes much consternation in this rural Devon village. Scotland Yard’s Detective Inspector Lawless is soon on the scene, although his involvement is surprisingly brief - after a further body is discovered, his investigation is closed and he’s summoned elsewhere. 

But for the Rector, and retired Lieutenant-Commander Blundell, our narrator and secretary to the P.C.C., the case remains unresolved. Together they lead the council members in an examination of all known facts, aided by just the departed detective’s notebook and a brown paper parcel. 

​There’s peril afoot as each must ask – Who is the killer? and, of course, Will more graves soon need to be dug..?

Casual Slaughters (1935) is richly populated with quirky, realistic characters in a delightful location. Beautifully crafted dialect and malapropisms a-plenty complement a rich seam of quaint humour, all coming together to create what is a truly delicious detective story, the third by the Reverend James Reginald Spittal (aka James Quince: 1875-1951).

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