"There's Death in the Churchyard" 1934, by Jan Gordon Alias "William Gore"

I had missed the re-release of "There's Death in the Churchyard" on November 22nd 2015 by Black Heath Editions. This makes what was a very rare book much more widely accessible.

Their blurb is as follows:
"During a particularly eventful village church service, entrepreneur Ponderby Jonson is murdered. With his dying breath, Jonson accuses his host - the local Squire, Captain Stoyner - of killing him. As the evidence against the Squire begins to mount, the Vicar and his family determine to do everything they can to prove his innocence and discover the real culprit. As discreetly as possible, of course...

First published in 1934, this is a delightful village murder mystery from the golden age of crime fiction."

Dorothy Sayers’ contemporary review in The Sunday Times can be seen here. She wrote, "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."

This was the first of three novels Jan Gordon wrote under the name "William Gore." The other two were "death in the Wheelbarrow" and "The Painted Nude." "There's Death in the Wheelbarrow" features a number of the same characters introduced in "Death in the Churchyard," including superintendent Priddom, Colonel Henderby and others, and they refer back to the "parrot murderer" of the previous year.

Some knowledge of Jan Gordon and his wife Cora Josephine ("Jo") adds context and interest since there are several WW1 and earlier autobiographical references. For example, Gunning the painter’s wartime experience as a munitions worker was exactly modelled on that of Jan Gordon himself and Belle’s studies at the Slade School of Art matched the art education of Cora Josephine ("Jo") Gordon.  Gordon did this a lot in his novels, those written as Gore as well as those written under his own name (e.g. "Beans Spilt in Spain").


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