James Scotland, a young pathologist, decides on a quiet holiday in Melchester, but amid the cathedral town's quiet medieval atmosphere, he finds a hornet's nest of church politics, town and country rivalries, and murder. He is called upon to investigate and finds that some very curious alliances between the church, state and business exist. With modern forensic pathology he unravels the unvarnished truth about Melchester, but not before a spot of unexpected romance intervenes.
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Born in Lincolnshire, England, Michael Francis Gilbert graduated in law from the University of London in 1937, shortly after which he first spent some time teaching at a prep-school which was followed by six years serving with the Royal Horse Artillery. During World War II he was captured following service in North Africa and Italy, and his prisoner-of-war experiences later leading to the writing of the acclaimed novel 'Death in Captivity' in 1952.After the war, Gilbert worked as a solicitor in London, but his writing continued throughout his legal career and in addition to novels he wrote stage plays and scripts for radio and television. He is, however, best remembered for his novels, which have been described as witty and meticulously-plotted espionage and police procedural thrillers, but which exemplify realism.HRF Keating stated that 'Smallbone Deceased' was amongst the 100 best crime and mystery books ever published. "The plot," wrote Keating, "is in every way as good as those of Agatha Christie at her best: as neatly dovetailed, as inherently complex yet retaining a decent credibility, and as full of cunningly-suggested red herrings." It featured Chief Inspector Hazlerigg, who went on to appear in later novels and short stories, and another series was built around Patrick Petrella, a London based police constable (later promoted) who was fluent in four languages and had a love for both poetry and fine wine. Other memorable characters around which Gilbert built stories included Calder and Behrens. They are elderly but quite amiable agents, who are nonetheless ruthless and prepared to take on tasks too much at the dirty end of the business for their younger colleagues. They are brought out of retirement periodically upon receiving a bank statement containing a code.Much of Michael Gilbert's writing was done on the train as he travelled from home to his office in London: "I always take a latish train to work," he explained in 1980, "and, of course, I go first class. I have no trouble in writing because I prepare a thorough synopsis beforehand.". After retirement from the law, however, he nevertheless continued and also reviewed for 'The Daily Telegraph', as well as editing 'The Oxford Book of Legal Anecdotes'.Gilbert was appointed CBE in 1980. Generally regarded as 'one of the elder statesmen of the British crime writing fraternity, he was a founder-member of the British Crime Writers' Association and in 1988 he was named a Grand Master by the MystReview:
"Very well observed, splendidly plotted. " (The Standard Times)
"Michael Gilbert tells the story beautifully. " (Times Literary Supplement)
"Grips like a bishops gaiters. " (The Guardian)
"Gilberts triumph is more than ingenious plot, character, atmosphere, and even witty observation. He brings a cultivated, questioning intelligence to his writing." (The Instrumentalist)
"As always, the author is wonderfully at home in these precincts and stocks his Barchester font judiciously with piranhas and red herrings." (The Observer)
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Book Description Harpercollins. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0060152206 New Book. First Edition. Dust jacket in protective mylar cover. Bookseller Inventory # D5-725
Book Description Harpercollins, 1984. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060152206
Book Description Harpercollins, 1984. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110060152206
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97800601522081.0
Book Description Harpercollins. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0060152206 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.0011963