Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dead in the Morning: Margaret Yorke


Dead in the Morning (1970) is the first book in the Patrick Grant series by Margaret Yorke. Grant is a likable, highly intelligent, but also extremely nosy amateur detective. He is a Fellow and Dean of St. Mark's College, Oxford, and a lecturer in English, and he has insatiable curiosity. In this first book, Grant visits his sister at the same time a death occurs in the small village she lives in. He brazenly insinuates himself into the investigation.

The death occurs at Pantons, the home of Mrs. Ludlow, the overbearing matriarch of a family firmly under her thumb. Her daughter and granddaughter live with her. Her two sons live not too far away. Mrs. Ludlow is known for treating her children badly, so when the housekeeper is found dead, some wonder if it should have been Mrs. Ludlow.

The focus was on the family and their dynamics. Mrs. Ludlow's favorite son had recently married in haste and has just arrived home from his honeymoon. His daughter from a previous marriage lives with Mrs. Ludlow. His sister, Phyllis, cares for her mother; the other son has a more normal family life, with two grown sons, but there are hints of discord.

Stories featuring amateur sleuths are not my favorite, by a long shot, but this one entertained me, once again proving that it is the quality of the writing and plotting that determine enjoyment of a book. Patrick constantly inserts himself into the families get-togethers and is allowed a lot of leeway by Inspector Foster, who is in charge of the investigation. That part of it is unrealistic, but it did not bother me.

Even though the murderer is not known until the very end, it gradually becomes fairly obvious who it is. It is not obvious why, though, and that is the real mystery.

The books in the Patrick Grant series are not considered to be Yorke's best work; there were only five books in the series. I enjoyed this one, though; it inspires me to read more of her books.

Dead in the Morning, published in 1970, was the first mystery novel that Margaret Yorke wrote, but she had written several other novels earlier. In 1974 she published her first non-series mystery, No Medals for the Major, which gained favorable critical attention. She wrote many more mysteries in the following years; her last mystery novel, Cause for Concern, was published in 2001.

This post at Mystery Fanfare lists all of her books.

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Publisher:   House of Stratus, 2012 (orig. pub. 1970)
Length:      160 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Series:       Patrick Grant #1
Setting:      small village in the U.K.
Genre:        Mystery
Source:      I purchased my copy at Chaucer's Books.


14 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed,Tracy. I have never read her, though I believe I do have one of hers in the tubs! One day then...

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    1. I hope you do read at least one of her books, Col. You know, to be well-rounded. I think a lot of her later mysteries were more psychological suspense, which I use to avoid, but now I find that it depends on the author whether I like them or not.

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  2. I think Margaret Yorke had quite a lot of writing talent, Tracy, so I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I admit I've not read any of these particular novels, which seem a bit lighter than some of her other work. Just goes to show you that a talented writer can create different sorts of atmospheres.

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    1. Margot, I can tell from Dead in the Morning that I will like some of her later books and stand-alone books. I hope I do. And I will try at least one more of the Patrick Grant series.

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  3. This is the one book by Yorke I've read, and with some small reservations, the same as those you had, I liked it. I have no more on the shelves, and doubt I'll spend for another, but this was enjoyable reading.

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    1. I agree, Richard, very enjoyable. I also liked the length.

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  4. Now that I'm back, after a loooooong hiatus, to the English cozies it would seem reasonable to segue from Tey to Yorke. And I like reviews that point out weaknesses but find them surmountable if the wordsmithery, characters and story (what else is there?) are compelling. Enjoyed your review, Tracy.

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    1. Thanks very much. I think you would like Yorke, Mathew, and I would love to hear what you think of her books.

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  5. Tracy, I was wondering if there aren't too many characters in Mrs. Ludlow's family. Sometimes they leave me confused as I like to be clear on how every character is related or connected.

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    1. I will be honest, Prashant, and say that sometimes in this book, the many family members and what each was doing did confuse me, but I fear in the post I just wasn't clear about who was who. I hate to reveal too much plot in a review.

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  6. Thanks for reviewing this one, Tracy. I was curious since her books and her writing were featured in an article. Doubtful I'll read this book but good to know you enjoyed it.

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    1. I think this one is a bit different from the later books, Keishon. I will be trying some more of the early ones and some of the later ones, for comparison.

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  7. This sounds great! I read a couple of Yorkes years ago, I need to check out which ones I have. But I like the sound of this one, corny and clichéd though it might be: a good mindless comfort read....

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    1. Exactly, Moira, a comfort read. And I recognized a few families I know with dominating matriarchs, which added to my enjoyment on this one.

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