Suddenly at His Residence by Christianna Brand

Suddenly at His Residence by Christianna Brand was first published in 1946 but it was reprinted by British Library in 2023. It’s an Inspector Cockrill mystery. It’s subtitled A Mystery in Kent, but really it could have been anywhere in the south of England. In Americal this book is titled The Crooked Wreath.

The setting is Swanswater Manor, a large house owned by Sir Richard March. As World War 2 is still ongoing the manor is fuller than usual, Sir Richard’s family has gathered together, including his grandchildren. After the death of his wife Serafita Sir Richard had married his long-term mistress Bella, who had had a daughter by him, and she had had a son Edward. He’s an attention seeker and has concocted mental health issues which might come back to bite him.

The whole manor house is a shrine to the first wife Serafita, there are portraits of her everywhere, and small tables with her ballet shoes and other personal things on show, it’s a cross that Bella has to bear.  Sir Richard is cantankerous and uses his wealth to manipulate his family, he’s always changing his will, despite the fact that he has a weak heart and could pop off at any time.

This is an enjoyable classic country house mystery, although I did guess who the culprit was, but not too early on.

There’s an interesting introduction by Martin Edwards.

4 thoughts on “Suddenly at His Residence by Christianna Brand

  1. This is one of the British Library books that I need to purchase and read. I have only read two books by Brand, one was an Inspector Cockrill that I did not like, but the other was Green for Danger, which was very good. This one also sounds like I would like it. I would like the World War 2 setting and that it is set in a manor house.

    • tracybham,
      I must say that the war really doesn’t come into the story at all except a mention at the beginning, so you may not think much of this Cockrill investigation too. You should stick ‘British Library’ into your library’s catalogue and see what comes up. If they have anything at all there might be something that would be more up your street.

  2. I have this somewhere but can never find it when I am in the mood to read it! It sounds enjoyable.

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