Someone is sending poison pen letters in the small village of Prior's Umborne, and they have already driven one of the inhabitants to suicide. Private detective Nigel Strangeways is commissioned to find the source of the letters by arrogant financier Sir Archibald Blick, whose two sons live in the village, only for Sir Archibald to meet an untimely end at the bottom of the dreadful hollow...
Nicholas Blake was the pseudonym of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, who was born in County Laois, Ireland in 1904. After his mother died in 1906, he was brought up in London by his father, spending summer holidays with relatives in Wexford. He was educated at Sherborne School and Wadham College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1927. Blake initially worked as a teacher to supplement his income from his poetry writing and he published his first Nigel Strangeways novel, A Question of Proof, in 1935.
Blake went on to write a further nineteen crime novels, all but four of which featured Nigel Strangeways, as well as numerous poetry collections and translations. During the Second World War he worked as a publications editor in the Ministry of Information, which he used as the basis for the Ministry of Morale in Minute for Murder, and after the war he joined the publishers Chatto & Windus as an editor and director. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1968 and died in 1972 at the home of his friend, the writer Kingsley Amis.
"The story of anonymous letters in a little village can...be read with great pleasure" (Spectator)
"The Nicholas Blake books are something quite by themselves in English detective fiction" (Elizabeth Bowen)
"His plots are ingenious" (Times Literary Supplement)
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