Bats in the Belfry
“It was a queer-looking building to find among the prosperous houses of the pleasant-looking road, and Grenville was aware of a feeling of apprehension, quite unreasonable, at the sight of the dark massive structure.”
Bats in the Belfry, E.C.R. Lorac
Bats in the Belfry is another E.C.R. Lorac masterpiece. I thoroughly enjoy her mysteries, no matter the pseudonym they’re written under. Luckily, the British Library has reprinted several of her books and I still have a couple left to discover.
In her Shedunnit podcast, Caroline Crampton says of Bats in the Belfry: “Lorac’s version of London feels authentically of its time, too, with some of the slightly less central areas still retaining more of an insular, “village” feel.” I found this to be entirely true. The foggy banks, the cold rain, the city itself is so well described and given such energy and life through Lorac’s writing. It’s a grubby city, a bit gothic and grim at times, that we find ourselves in for this one.
The belfry of the book is a character in and of itself. The way it’s described, it’s a very neat and interesting building. If it were in better shape, it would be a fun place to live or work. As it is, the dark, dank corners and rooms make for creepy reading.
As for the “’village’ feel” Crampton mentions… I would love either of the small houses that Neil Rockingham or Robert Grenville inhabits. They sound delightfully forgotten in time, the city growing up around them. The perfect little homes to hide out and read or write in.
I can’t recommend Lorac highly enough. Bats in the Belfry was a tricky murder to figure out. And, once again, I only sort of halfway figured it out. I was suspicious early on, but then discarded my idea. Turns out, I would have been right if I’d kept on. Oh well… not figuring out the whodunnit never ruins mystery reading for me.
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