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Although it was first published in 1947 Gilbert began this novel in the years immediately before World War II and didn't finish it until he returned from active duty Set behind the walls of the residential Close of Melchester Cathedral it's a classic British mystery in which a young Scotland Yard detective is asked to interrupt his holiday to find out if the accidental death of Canon Whyte was indeed an accident


10 thoughts on “Close Quarters

  1. says:

    Full review can be found at


  2. says:

    An excellent closed community mysteryThe evidence of vice and virtue are not confined to famous accomplishments often some trivial event a word a joke will serve better than great campaigns as a revelation of character Plutarch Under the normal headings of motives and methods Pollock could find little to help himAnyway motive was likely to prove a broken reed in a case like thisObsession Mania complexes of all sortswas difficult to diagnose in practice difficult still to detect The most saintly countenance might mask a seething fury of inhibitions The most ordinary looking breast pocket might contain a poison pen As a rough plan of campaign Pollock felt that the first thing to do was to obtain the Fingerprints of every resident in the Close and send them to London with the Dean's anonymous letter for expert scrutiny


  3. says:

    Gilbert's first mystery has a few problems of construction action is definitely poorly paced and the second half of the mystery totally unexpected not really in a good way Also there are like 50 very similar characterssuspects so that by the end I just gave up trying to remember if the person was a verger or a canon or choral whatever and just let it flow over me It flows pretty smoothly though and the Inspector is rather a pleasant character so that I didn't even get mad that a whole chapter is a cryptic crossword Looking forward to finding others in the series


  4. says:

    It's 1937 Residents of the Melchester Cathedral Close are receiving poison pen letters and the Dean asks his nephew Sergeant Pollock of Scotland Yard to investigate When one of the vergers is found dead Pollock calls in Inspector Hazelrigg his superior and a brilliant detectiveThis first novel is written in a classic British style with clear but well hidden clues diagrams and even a crossword puzzle


  5. says:

    A wonderful older murder mystery published in 1947 the setting probably based on Salisbury Cathedral as the author was a schoolmaster in Salisbury when he wrote this first novel in 1938 It is atmospheric intelligent peopled with truly interesting members and residents of the Close There are anonymous letters and a general campaign against the oldest canon of the Close carefully executed by someone with enough malice that the concerned Dean invites his nephew Sargent Bobby Pollock who is attached to Scotland Yard for a visit On the morning after Pollock's first night in Melchester a body is discovered the victim of the smear campaign Pollock calls in Chief Inspector Hazlerigg to assist in the investigation and before they can uncover the truth others will die


  6. says:

    There's trouble at Melchester cathedral but fortunately the Dean has a young nephew who's at Scotland Yard Who better to unofficially look into the anonymous letters that have attacked the senior verger? So Bobby Pollock comes to Melchester in time to meet the case of characters before the verger is found dead Then Inspector Hazlerigg joins him and they begin to interview the clerical company There's a clue in a crossword puzzle in clothing that's too wet and a hat that's too dry and in a strange handwritten note I've labeled this historical since it is set pre World War II and written after the war


  7. says:

    The book is set in and around Melchester cathedral close A year before the book opens the unfortunate Canon Whyte fell from the roof and was killed His death seems to be casting a long shadow still There has been a spate of anonymous letters sent to people living in the close and graffiti has been appearing on walls casting aspersions on the uality of the head verger's work Appledown is not popular but the Dean has no real complaints about the standard of the work Then a murder takes place and Inspector Hazlerigg is called in from Scotland Yard to investigate At first it seems as though there are just too many suspects and that everyone could be lying about something But Hazlerigg is nothing is not persistent and the murderer is eventually tracked down This is the first book I've read by Michael Gilbert and it won't be the last I loved the descriptions of people and places and there is plenty of humour in the book I loved the episode in which a suspect is followed by one of Hazlerigg's team which reminded me of Bunter's efforts at following the murderer in Dorothy L Sayers' Have His Carcase The end of the chase is priceless and one of the best scenes in the book This book has stood the test of time extremely well and I recommend it to anyone who loves Golden Age crime fiction and to anyone who wants to try it for the first time


  8. says:

    Technically well done but suffers from the problem that puzzle mysteries often suffer from because it relies entirely on the puzzle there's no real sense of the suspects as suspects And conversely it's solvable based on the conventions of the puzzle mysteryI think puzzle mysteries really only work for me when adapted as shows Having the thing acted out tends to paper over the flaws and bring humanity I guessto the stories


  9. says:

    As Michael Gilbert said of his first book It's a little busy But charming nevertheless There's a cast of characters to help you keep track of who's who a map of the close and even a crossword puzzle for you to solve or not


  10. says:

    A very satisfying mystery set in a cathedral close and featuring timetables a cryptic English crossword and many secrets When the crossword came up it rang a faint bell so I think this must have been among the English mysteries on my parents' well filled shelves