Jan Gordon as William Gore: "There's Death in the Churchyard"

The output of books by Jan and Cora Gordon between 1916 and 1944 was prolific, including travel books, books on art and a series of short stories and novels.

Three crime novels by Jan Gordon were published under the name of William Gore and the first of these was “There’s Death in the Churchyard” (1934), now a very rare book indeed.

The novel contains several semi-biographical references to the art world and the experiences of Jan and Cora Gordon during and after the First World War. There are also several allusions to changing societal conditions following the war.

The character "Belle" in the book had studied at the Slade School of Art in London, as did Cora (“Jo”) Gordon. ".. she had nevertheless retained many of the faculties which the art course develops, notably a habit of unconscious observation." This ability proves useful in the solving of the crime.

The character "Gunning" the painter, Like Jan Gordon, had been a munitions worker during the First World War. " why he probably learned no more than his grinding job, and nothing else", an observation which eventually removes him from the list of suspects. Jan Gordon had worked at the Derby Rolls-Royce factory making parts for aero engines.

One copy of this book (in my possession) survived seventy-eight years in near new condition with an intact dust jacket showing a painting of an incident in the book involving a black cat and a parrot.

The contemporary review in The Sunday Times is very upbeat: "I give Mr Gore full marks for atmosphere and entertainment value, with a special distinction for one quaint device which he has worked into the solution."

I also enjoyed the story, nearly eighty years after it was first published.


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