Toll the Bell for Murder
By George Bellairs
This was first published in 1959 and is set in the village of Mylecharaine, in the north of the Isle of Man. One night a loud explosion is heard, waking the villagers, then Reverend Lee is ringing the Church Bell, nearly hysterical……the body of the cad, Sir Martin Skollick is there, with half his head missing. Shot.
Reverend Lee confesses to the killing and is jailed while the now Superintendent Littlejohn investigates, as he does not believe the Reverend is telling the truth.
Littlejohn is joined by the Archdeacon and Knell, in the search for answers but, then another murder, the shooting of the poacher, Casement.
What follows is a brilliantly written murder mystery, George Bellairs adds some of the Manx language and dialects and descriptions of the area, building the atmosphere of a beautiful but at times, bleak, countryside. His description of the Reverend Lee’s home is just depressing and a little sad. There are some gentle humorous moments too as in ‘ Knell scrambled about among the contents, sat on Sam’s lunch, which made strange noises as he squashed the hardboiled eggs’.
The reveal is a surprise right to the final chapters, with a few possible suspects along the way…male and female, to keep you guessing.
George Bellairs has created wonderfully rounded characters and at times a dark and emotional tale. Mr Bellairs deserves greater recognition as an original, classic crime novelist alongside Josephine Tey and Agatha Christie