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Bruce Attleton dazzled London's literary scene with his first two novels—but his early promise did not bear fruit. His wife Sybilla is a glittering actress, unforgiving of Bruce's failure, and the couple lead separate lives in their house at Regent's Park.When Bruce is called away on a sudden trip to Paris, he vanishes completely—until his suitcase and passport are found i Bruce Attleton dazzled London's literary scene with his first two novels—but his early promise did not bear fruit. His wife Sybilla is a glittering actress, unforgiving of Bruce's failure, and the couple lead separate lives in their house at Regent's Park.When Bruce is called away on a sudden trip to Paris, he vanishes completely—until his suitcase and passport are found in a sinister artist's studio, the Belfry, in a crumbling house in Notting Hill. Inspector Macdonald must uncover Bruce's secrets, and find out the identity of his mysterious blackmailer.This intricate mystery from a classic writer is set in a superbly evoked London of the 1930s.


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Bruce Attleton dazzled London's literary scene with his first two novels—but his early promise did not bear fruit. His wife Sybilla is a glittering actress, unforgiving of Bruce's failure, and the couple lead separate lives in their house at Regent's Park.When Bruce is called away on a sudden trip to Paris, he vanishes completely—until his suitcase and passport are found i Bruce Attleton dazzled London's literary scene with his first two novels—but his early promise did not bear fruit. His wife Sybilla is a glittering actress, unforgiving of Bruce's failure, and the couple lead separate lives in their house at Regent's Park.When Bruce is called away on a sudden trip to Paris, he vanishes completely—until his suitcase and passport are found in a sinister artist's studio, the Belfry, in a crumbling house in Notting Hill. Inspector Macdonald must uncover Bruce's secrets, and find out the identity of his mysterious blackmailer.This intricate mystery from a classic writer is set in a superbly evoked London of the 1930s.

30 review for Bats in the Belfry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    This is exactly the wonderfully crazy murder mystery you'd expect from the title! Lorac has a huge amount of fun throwing in various tropes of the genre (how to get rid of a corpse, mysterious identities, blackmail, did the butler do it?) and comes up with an eccentric cast and a creepy locale all brought down to earth by Inspector Macdonald of Scotland Yard. Never a dull moment in this one! This is exactly the wonderfully crazy murder mystery you'd expect from the title! Lorac has a huge amount of fun throwing in various tropes of the genre (how to get rid of a corpse, mysterious identities, blackmail, did the butler do it?) and comes up with an eccentric cast and a creepy locale all brought down to earth by Inspector Macdonald of Scotland Yard. Never a dull moment in this one!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Piyangie

    I've been discovering recently some of the forgotten detective mysteries of the "golden age". Bats in the Belfry is yet another one of this lot. Although it is part of a series, I could only find four of them, and this one is the "first" in the series out of those four. Set in London, E.C.R. Lorac brings us a mystery surrounding the disappearance and ultimate murder of a once successful author. Suspicion falls everywhere - on his dissatisfied wife, her lover, a blackmailer who is said to have be I've been discovering recently some of the forgotten detective mysteries of the "golden age". Bats in the Belfry is yet another one of this lot. Although it is part of a series, I could only find four of them, and this one is the "first" in the series out of those four. Set in London, E.C.R. Lorac brings us a mystery surrounding the disappearance and ultimate murder of a once successful author. Suspicion falls everywhere - on his dissatisfied wife, her lover, a blackmailer who is said to have been troubling him, and on the journalist friend who is angry at being denied marriage to his ward. This is a pretty sinister tale with a mutilated body of the disappeared appearing in the Belfry and the dead body of the suspected blackmailer being fished up from the Thames. The story also takes the readers through some of the darker places in London and makes them witness the actions of a darker minded clever criminal. The whole story is quite intriguing and the character diversity is very interesting. A steady pace and suspense were kept throughout with several twists and turns. There were clues and enough of red herrings to keep the readers engaged in the guessing game. I figured the criminal and the motive before it was revealed which I felt great. :) It was one of the handful numbers of times I did in a murder-mystery story. The protagonist, Chief Inspector Robert MacDonald, is promising to be an interesting character. He is intelligent, patient, and methodical. This is the first time in a series that I came across a Scottish detective and I welcomed the novelty. However, what I enjoyed most was E.C.R. Lorac, the author. Her writing is brilliant. This was a dark and a sinister tale but the gravity was so much lessened by her wit and humour. I had such a fun time reading the story, laughing my heart out at times. Overall, I enjoyed my first reading of E.C.R. Lorac. Having read a fair number of detective fiction, I've grown fastidious with my ratings. But she is promising and I'm quite eager to follow her through the rest.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Having read, and enjoyed, “Fell Murder,” I was keen to read more by E.C.R. Lorac, pen name of Edith Caroline Rivett. Normally, I would only read a series in order, but, as not all of the author’s work has been re-published, I have made an exception. This is an earlier mystery than, “Fell Murder,” published in 1937. According to Martin Edwards, who so often writes excellent introductions to these re-published, Golden Age, novels, this particular mystery was not a great success when it was first p Having read, and enjoyed, “Fell Murder,” I was keen to read more by E.C.R. Lorac, pen name of Edith Caroline Rivett. Normally, I would only read a series in order, but, as not all of the author’s work has been re-published, I have made an exception. This is an earlier mystery than, “Fell Murder,” published in 1937. According to Martin Edwards, who so often writes excellent introductions to these re-published, Golden Age, novels, this particular mystery was not a great success when it was first published, which is a surprise. The novel opens with a group of people discussing, of course, murder. Or, to be precise, how to rid yourself of a body. Our drawing room suspects are Bruce Attleton, his actress wife, Sybilla, his ward, Elizabeth Leigh, Robert Grenville, who wants to marry Elizabeth, Neil Rockingham, a friend of Bruce, and Thomas Burroughs, a special friend of Sybilla… When Bruce Attleton leave for a trip to Paris, he vanishes completely Rockingham seems to be the only one concerned and he joins forces with Grenville to try to find out where he is. Clues, including a strange man who has been contacting Attleton, lead to a studio; known locally as ‘the Belfry,’ or ‘the Morgue.’ Inside a body is discovered, minus head and hands. This mystery has an intricate plot and London is almost a character in itself. As a Londoner myself, I was unsurprised to read that the traffic was terrible, even back in the 1930’s. I am not sure what she would think, if she saw it now, but I am pleased that her view of the city, and her novels, are back in print. I hope that more of her books become available, as she writes excellent Golden Age crime novels.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    9/2020: Really enjoyed rereading this intricate, complicated whodunnit - I remembered who the killer was, but couldn’t remember the details. I was struck also by the dry humor - I’ve read several Lorac books with Macdonald investigating, and I always enjoy his wry, laidback personality, but I enjoyed seeing his humorous interactions with a young, rambunctious suspect, his fellow officers, even a doctor at the hospital. 6/2019: This is the third ECR Lorac Golden Age mystery I’ve read, and she is b 9/2020: Really enjoyed rereading this intricate, complicated whodunnit - I remembered who the killer was, but couldn’t remember the details. I was struck also by the dry humor - I’ve read several Lorac books with Macdonald investigating, and I always enjoy his wry, laidback personality, but I enjoyed seeing his humorous interactions with a young, rambunctious suspect, his fellow officers, even a doctor at the hospital. 6/2019: This is the third ECR Lorac Golden Age mystery I’ve read, and she is becoming one of my favorite authors. I very much enjoy the wry humor, intelligence and dogged determination of her detective, Scotland Yard Inspector Macdonald. This British Library Crimes Classics reissue of the book, originally written in 1937, refers to it as “a hidden gem” that aroused little interest, “either on first publication or subsequently, despite its quality.” The introduction goes on to note that the plot and evocative portrayal of 1930s London lift it above the ordinary. I wholeheartedly agree; from the opening scene in a stylish, cozy London drawing room where a sophisticated group of soon-to-be suspects discuss the knotty problem of disposing of a mythical corpse, to a creepy Notting Hill studio called the Belfry, or the Morgue to the locals, to a climactic chase through London traffic as Macdonald finally closes in on the murderer, London itself plays an important role in the mystery. Lorac obviously knew London, as does her Inspector Macdonald - the tucked-away neighborhoods, the riverside docks, the little-known architectural gems left over from previous eras, even the iconic weather - Lorac uses them all to bring the city to life. I’ve never been to London, but her books make it easy to imagine the freezing sleet on the isolated docks, the penetrating misty fog that distorts sounds and light, leaving walkers feeling isolated, yet unsure whether they are alone, or being followed and overheard... The murder in this one is particularly gruesome - a man goes missing, but his suitcase and passport are found in the decrepit artist’s studio called the Belfry - eventually his headless, handless body is found on the premises. Inspector Macdonald must dig up all the secrets of the dead man to unlock the elaborate scheme behind his murder. The plot is complex, involving blackmail, infidelity, long-lost relatives, a large inheritance, and some sophisticated and cynical characters. That’s another thing I really enjoy about this author, the realistic, low-key portrayal of the grind of police investigations - no big summing up before the assembled cast at the end, or pulling surprise witnesses or leads out of thin air - the scene where Macdonald and his team take apart the filthy Belfry studio looking for the victim’s remains made it clear how difficult, dirty and tedious police work can be. Lorac also has the ability to shift suspicion around her characters while keeping the plot moving along convincingly, which I really appreciate. I hope her books will continue to be reissued, I enjoy them very much.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Starring MacDonald of the Yard... When Bruce Attleton doesn't turn up in Paris as planned, his friend Neil Rockingham begins to worry. A strange man called Debrette had been harrassing Attleton, so Rockingham sets another friend, young Robert Grenville, the task of tracking Debrette down. Things take a sinister turn when Grenville finds Attleton's suticase, complete with passport, in the cellar of the Belfry – an old building where Debrette had been living until very recently. Time to bring in In Starring MacDonald of the Yard... When Bruce Attleton doesn't turn up in Paris as planned, his friend Neil Rockingham begins to worry. A strange man called Debrette had been harrassing Attleton, so Rockingham sets another friend, young Robert Grenville, the task of tracking Debrette down. Things take a sinister turn when Grenville finds Attleton's suticase, complete with passport, in the cellar of the Belfry – an old building where Debrette had been living until very recently. Time to bring in Inspector MacDonald of the Yard... This is an excellent early example of the police procedural novel, mixed with just enough amateur detection from young Grenville to make it fun and to keep the authentic Golden Age feel. Grenville plays a very minor second fiddle to the professional Inspector MacDonald though, and the police methods throughout have a feeling of authenticity that is rare in my experience of early crime fiction. MacDonald doesn't work alone – he heads a team, all allocated with different tasks and responsibilities suited to their rank, and we get a clear picture of the painstaking detection that lies behind MacDonald's brilliance. The plot is nicely convoluted, involving murder, possible blackmail, secrets within families, a bit of adultery, and a solution that I only got to about five pages before MacDonald revealed all. MacDonald does, at one point, make a rather unbelievable leap of intuition, but for the most part the mystery is solved by conscientious fact-checking of alibis and identities, following suspects and making good use of forensic evidence. The book is based in London – one of my favourite locations for crime novels – and Lorac is wonderfully descriptive in her writing, especially in the way she highlights the ancient and modern jostling side by side in the city, with short alleys leading from offices and factories to quiet little residential squares that seem unchanged by the passing centuries. The Belfry itself is a spooky place and Lorac gets in some nice little touches of horror to tingle the reader's spine. It's written in the third person past tense. Back in the Golden Age, most crime authors wrote well, but Lorac's writing impressed me more than most, often having quite a literary feel without ever becoming pretentious. As with a lot of Golden Age fiction, there's a romantic sub-plot – young Grenville is in love with Elizabeth, Attleton's ward. They are both fun characters – Grenville is headstrong and occasionally foolish, always putting himself in danger and often paying the price for it, while Elizabeth is a modern girl, living in her club and with a mind and a will of her own. They give the reader someone to root for amidst the rest of the other rather unpleasant characters who are assembled as victims, suspects or both. Being modern young people, they talk in a kind of slang not far removed from how Wodehouse characters speak, and this adds a nice element of humour, keeping the overall tone light. MacDonald is no slouch in the slang department too, and I loved how Lorac gave each of the major characters such distinctive voices and personalities. I can't begin to imagine why a book as good as this one would ever have been allowed to become “forgotten”. The British Library Crime Classics can be a bit variable in quality, but it's finding these occasional little gems among them that makes the series so enjoyable. One of their best. NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, British Library. www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    Bruce Attleton produced two best-selling novels, but he’s had little luck since. That luck gets even worse when he vanishes when he was supposed to be on a trip to Paris. What has happened to him? And when someone else dies, is Bruce the victim? Or a perpetrator? While Bats in the Belfry is 13th book in E.C.R. Lorac’s series featuring Chief Inspector Robert MacDonald, these novels can be read in any order, and newbies won’t have any trouble with it. The no-nonsense MacDonald suspects everyone in Bruce Attleton produced two best-selling novels, but he’s had little luck since. That luck gets even worse when he vanishes when he was supposed to be on a trip to Paris. What has happened to him? And when someone else dies, is Bruce the victim? Or a perpetrator? While Bats in the Belfry is 13th book in E.C.R. Lorac’s series featuring Chief Inspector Robert MacDonald, these novels can be read in any order, and newbies won’t have any trouble with it. The no-nonsense MacDonald suspects everyone in Attleton’s circle — including Attleton himself. Even so, I was taken by surprise by the novel’s ending. While the plot was a bit overly complicated, I’ve loved all of the Lorac novels I’ve read so far, and this one was no exception. I can’t wait for British Library and Poisoned Pen Press to rerelease the next novel!

  7. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    Ingenious murder mystery with lots of red herrings. The style is fast and light and it's got great London atmosphere but overall rather suffered from the author explaining the plot (the policeman spends a lot of time reiterating the possible solutions). It also has a couple of nasty 30s attitudes inc a random bit of antisemitism on the part of a character so I wouldn't rush to it. Ingenious murder mystery with lots of red herrings. The style is fast and light and it's got great London atmosphere but overall rather suffered from the author explaining the plot (the policeman spends a lot of time reiterating the possible solutions). It also has a couple of nasty 30s attitudes inc a random bit of antisemitism on the part of a character so I wouldn't rush to it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    I think I enjoyed this more than the first E.C.R. Lorac I read just recently - Murder in Vienna. I am obviously not a reader-in-order person. I don't know if I would have come to know MacDonald any better by this 13th in the series if I were. I like him very much. He's single and not very gullible. He lets inconsistencies bother him so that he is persistent. Those being interviewed underestimate him. He is (mostly) open with colleagues, which is good, because then the reader gets the inside scoo I think I enjoyed this more than the first E.C.R. Lorac I read just recently - Murder in Vienna. I am obviously not a reader-in-order person. I don't know if I would have come to know MacDonald any better by this 13th in the series if I were. I like him very much. He's single and not very gullible. He lets inconsistencies bother him so that he is persistent. Those being interviewed underestimate him. He is (mostly) open with colleagues, which is good, because then the reader gets the inside scoop on some of his thinking and theories. With all of MacDonald's thinking and theories, I didn't have to try to solve the mystery myself. I was mostly just along for the ride. Good thing, because it's a complicated plot and even MacDonald had several possible suspects. Yes, mysteries are almost all plot, but I was ready for that. Only MacDonald is well characterized, but the others are believable enough. I think what I like most about Lorac is her writing style. I am thought neither to have scant education nor to have a dictionary handy. In this, there was a bit more of London street layout than I needed or wanted, but I've chosen to ignore that type of thing because I'm not familiar with US cities either. I refuse to be held back for such lack of familiarity! I am happy to have recently picked up on the cheap a few others in the series and also to have seen that my library has a couple of titles as well. I can't say when I'll get to them, but just now I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later. Still, I can't rave enough about this one to have it leaping over the 3-/4-star line. It's definitely toward the top of 3-star group, though.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Dame Agatha Christie and Her Peers Book 8 E.C.R. Lorac is Edith Caroline Rivett but at the time (1937) many women writers preferred to present themselves as men. That makes no sense to me for this "cozy-who-did-it"genre: Agatha Christie owned it from 1920 to her passing in 1976 (and still does, imo). A huge thanks to "Poisoned Pen Press" (Scottsdale, Arizona) for this 2018 reprint. CAST = 4 stars: Bruce Attleton swills whiskey, is a "nervy blighter", and his heir to Adam Marsham who is sometimes re Dame Agatha Christie and Her Peers Book 8 E.C.R. Lorac is Edith Caroline Rivett but at the time (1937) many women writers preferred to present themselves as men. That makes no sense to me for this "cozy-who-did-it"genre: Agatha Christie owned it from 1920 to her passing in 1976 (and still does, imo). A huge thanks to "Poisoned Pen Press" (Scottsdale, Arizona) for this 2018 reprint. CAST = 4 stars: Bruce Attleton swills whiskey, is a "nervy blighter", and his heir to Adam Marsham who is sometimes referred to as "Old Soldier." Sybilla Attleton is "an exquisite figure" and an actress and may have all the household money. Neil Rockingham is a playwright but needs to sell a new one fast to keep up his lifestyle. Elizabeth/Liz Leigh is a young beauty and her guardian is Attleton. Thomas Burroughs is handsome and stout and rich and has his eye on Sybilla. Robert Greenville is head over heals in love with Liz and has a plan to get Attleton to approve their marriage. Debrette is a mysterious character, Weller a butler, and Anthony Fell is a distant family member who 'turned up' from Australia then died in a car wreck when the brakes go bad. (The Tichnor case, which rocked England in the 1800s, often appears in this genre: a man had returned from Australia and had perhaps assumed an identity.) Lorac, here, might be throwing out a red herring....or not. This is a rather small cast of ten but they certainly keep Chief Inspector MacDonald busy. I like very much that it's relatively easy to keep track of the cast, even when Lorac plays around with 'secret identities.' ATMOSPHERE - 4: Most of the action takes place in these character's upper class town homes and country manors. But there is an old, creepy, odd building built by some kind of ancient religious sect that is full of secrets. It's a very unusual place: not really a church, nor any kind of public building, and is often rented to artists. Yes, of course, there are bats in the belfry. And stuff best left behind plastered and hidden panels. Plus fog and rain and London at its creepiest. The back cover tells us this story is 'set in a superbly evoked London of the 1930s.' Agreed, just lovely. PLOT - 3: The story begins with Fell's funeral. Bruce disappears, MacDonald is on the hunt. But Burroughs and Sybilla are also missing: are they together for a lover's tryst? But the big question is the identity of Debrette, even though a murder does occur about 1/3rd of the way through. This one is easy to figure out: I knew almost everything by page 75 (of 231). In this novel, the cast and atmosphere rule. INVESTIGATION - 3: MacDonald will not give up, even when the "PTBs" (Powers That Be) are satisfied with a solution. There is something wrong. For example, why does Debrette insist on keeping a large dark beard with a white stripe that can be easily seen and identifiable? (You know the answer if you've read any amount of novels in this genre.) SOLUTION - 2: I simply found this too easy to figure out and I felt like I was way ahead of MacDonald. SUMMARY - 3.2. I enjoyed the cast and atmosphere very much. The plot is fine, Lorac seems to have fun writing this. This is a good 'cozy' for a rainy afternoon. My library system has just one book by this author and it's a new publication from the "British Library Crime Classics". I hope to see more of these republications of English writers who sort of disappeared from the shelves of libraries and bookstores.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    There’s some great bits of atmosphere in here — the Belfry is genuinely creepy-sounding, and the foggy interludes too. It’s a fairly typically entangled plot for a Golden Age crime novel, featuring all kinds of motives and inheritances and missing heirs, but you get the clues to guess the culprit, and I found it fun to follow through. I also appreciated that the solution is arrived at mostly by solid routine police work, not wild leaps of intuition or luck. Definitely good enough that I’m picking There’s some great bits of atmosphere in here — the Belfry is genuinely creepy-sounding, and the foggy interludes too. It’s a fairly typically entangled plot for a Golden Age crime novel, featuring all kinds of motives and inheritances and missing heirs, but you get the clues to guess the culprit, and I found it fun to follow through. I also appreciated that the solution is arrived at mostly by solid routine police work, not wild leaps of intuition or luck. Definitely good enough that I’m picking up another of Lorac’s works, even if most of the characters are pretty unlikeable. (The cold, hard, cheating wife who is an actress and doesn’t forgive her husband’s lack of success, bleh.) I wasn’t expecting miracles, and thus enjoyed it accordingly. Reviewed for the Bibliophibian.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shauna

    A new ' forgotten' golden age detective writer to add to my growing list! She writes very well and creates a wonderful sense of 1930's London. The plot is very far-fetched but that is fine, a lot of detective stories are. There are humorous touches- the butler being called Samuel Weller made me smile. The thing that let it down for me slightly were the characters. They were a little underdrawn, as was the detective. I do hope the British Library release more of Lorac's books, I would definitely A new ' forgotten' golden age detective writer to add to my growing list! She writes very well and creates a wonderful sense of 1930's London. The plot is very far-fetched but that is fine, a lot of detective stories are. There are humorous touches- the butler being called Samuel Weller made me smile. The thing that let it down for me slightly were the characters. They were a little underdrawn, as was the detective. I do hope the British Library release more of Lorac's books, I would definitely read them.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    4 strong stars for this very clever and very, very twisty mystery. I am a big fan of Lorac's Inspector Macdonald--so methodical, so logical, so sharply intelligent. This time he is really put to the test. As the bodies start piling up Macdonald keeps trying to make sense of all the clues--to the point where he develops 5(!!) hypothetical solutions to the crimes. Macdonald's boss is all for going with the easiest solution, but Macdonald isn't happy with that, no sirree. For once my sneaking suspici 4 strong stars for this very clever and very, very twisty mystery. I am a big fan of Lorac's Inspector Macdonald--so methodical, so logical, so sharply intelligent. This time he is really put to the test. As the bodies start piling up Macdonald keeps trying to make sense of all the clues--to the point where he develops 5(!!) hypothetical solutions to the crimes. Macdonald's boss is all for going with the easiest solution, but Macdonald isn't happy with that, no sirree. For once my sneaking suspicion of who dunnit was on the money. However, I was totally at sea over the 'Why" of the crimes. The author is known for writing 'fair play' mysteries. All the clues are out in the open; it is up to the reader to recognize them and draw the correct conclusions. I am having great fun reading these books and I hope that more of Lorac's mysteries will find their way to being reissued.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Henry

    Set in pre - WW II London, the book is a bit more than just a "cozy", which I generally don't care for. Recommend for the setting/atmosphere and well developed characters! Set in pre - WW II London, the book is a bit more than just a "cozy", which I generally don't care for. Recommend for the setting/atmosphere and well developed characters!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Bok

    I am very fond of this author, recently discovered, but this story was not a favorite for me. It was competent enough but the plot had some improbabilities and I like her rural settings more than her urban ones. Bats in the Belfry is set in London among a smart literary and theater set. The scene opens on a drawing room, where a disparate cast of characters essential to the plot are gathered, and the conversation turns on a parlor game: how would you get away with murder? Then a series of baffli I am very fond of this author, recently discovered, but this story was not a favorite for me. It was competent enough but the plot had some improbabilities and I like her rural settings more than her urban ones. Bats in the Belfry is set in London among a smart literary and theater set. The scene opens on a drawing room, where a disparate cast of characters essential to the plot are gathered, and the conversation turns on a parlor game: how would you get away with murder? Then a series of baffling disappearances begins, followed by assaults and murders, and Chief Inspector Macdonald of Scotland Yard is brought in to investigate. Lorac is fond of setting scenes, and her bent for description gets a bit carried away here. Pretty much every character lives in a unique historical landmark, and their lovingly evoked domiciles started to take on a tinge of the twee after a while. In her book Fell Murder, the setting felt essential to the crime and detection, but here everything seemed a bit artificial to me, laid on for purposes of the plot. My greatest objection, however, can’t be revealed without spoiling: (view spoiler)[The number of long-lost relatives running around, many of them unaware of the others’ relation to them, was excessive. I kept thinking of poor Mary Anne, popping out babies who all couldn’t wait to run away from Alsace, only to turn up in England at the critical moment in hopes of an inheritance. (hide spoiler)] Anyway, Lorac writes a strong, complex mystery, with evocative description, memorable characters, and strong dialogue. Her sleuth is a delightfully unruffled detective who holds his cards close and approaches his suspects with humanity. If this one wasn’t a favorite of mine, it was able enough.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Excellent GA murder mystery, just right for this time of year. I was leaning towards 5 stars right up until the last few chapters, but I found the solution to the mystery to be unsatisfying. Technically it could have been solved with the clues provided, but there were some vital pieces of information which were not revealed until the identity of the killer was named, and therefore it was not quite fair game. However, it had an intriguing plot, a clever detective, and characters so bad they are g Excellent GA murder mystery, just right for this time of year. I was leaning towards 5 stars right up until the last few chapters, but I found the solution to the mystery to be unsatisfying. Technically it could have been solved with the clues provided, but there were some vital pieces of information which were not revealed until the identity of the killer was named, and therefore it was not quite fair game. However, it had an intriguing plot, a clever detective, and characters so bad they are good. Rounding out at 4.5 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    This is the first E.C. Lorac book I've read and I certainly enjoyed it enough to try another one. I liked the London setting and the descriptions. My only disappointment was that I like to check the street names on a map and I was able to do that in general terms but when it came to specific locations, like the houses where the characters lived, the street names were fictitious so it made them hard to pin down. A small thing I know and it was otherwise very enjoyable. This is the first E.C. Lorac book I've read and I certainly enjoyed it enough to try another one. I liked the London setting and the descriptions. My only disappointment was that I like to check the street names on a map and I was able to do that in general terms but when it came to specific locations, like the houses where the characters lived, the street names were fictitious so it made them hard to pin down. A small thing I know and it was otherwise very enjoyable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Yibbie

    This is quite a puzzle! I was only sure that the police were innocent! Lorac threw suspicion on everyone, even on the two people I refused to believe guilty no matter the efforts of the author to sully their characters. They were just too nice, but however reluctant I was to believe it, they just might be the murderers. Then again, it could be the despicable actress, her unfaithful husband, her lover, his blackmailer, his ward, the ward's lover, the friend, or even the butler. By the way, who w This is quite a puzzle! I was only sure that the police were innocent! Lorac threw suspicion on everyone, even on the two people I refused to believe guilty no matter the efforts of the author to sully their characters. They were just too nice, but however reluctant I was to believe it, they just might be the murderers. Then again, it could be the despicable actress, her unfaithful husband, her lover, his blackmailer, his ward, the ward's lover, the friend, or even the butler. By the way, who was murdered? And why? Lorac created an incredibly complex tangle of motives and suspects. I started to suspect who was really guilty about three-quarters of the way through, but I wasn’t really sure. The ending was a might rushed and melodramatic, and just a little bit unsatisfying. Maybe because it was so fast and wild, or because we never do figure out what happened to several of the main characters. Unfortunately, the language isn’t very clean. Two of the main characters can’t seem to say two sentences without swearing. Thankfully there were large sections without their presence. It was still more than I like reading and I won’t be reading any more by this author, nor can I recommend it. I received this as a free ARC through NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press. No favorable review was required and these are my honest opinions.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Robert Macdonald: *3 #13 Bats in the Belfry TR #23 Death Came Softly TR #26 Murder by Matchlight TR #27 Fire in the Thatch TR #34 Accident by Design TR #37 Murder in the Mill-Race

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Richard Grenville wants to marry Elizabeth, but her guardian, unsuccessful novelist Bruce Attleton, won't let her marry yet. Attleton has other problems, too, including an unfaithful wife and, apparently, a persistent blackmailer. When he fails to meet his good friend in Paris, Grenville is one of the people who tracks him to a mysterious old studio (with belfry) where his blackmailer has been seen. The discovery of Attleton's suitcase, complete with passport, in the coal cellar brings the polic Richard Grenville wants to marry Elizabeth, but her guardian, unsuccessful novelist Bruce Attleton, won't let her marry yet. Attleton has other problems, too, including an unfaithful wife and, apparently, a persistent blackmailer. When he fails to meet his good friend in Paris, Grenville is one of the people who tracks him to a mysterious old studio (with belfry) where his blackmailer has been seen. The discovery of Attleton's suitcase, complete with passport, in the coal cellar brings the police into the case, and puzzling discoveries abound. The book was written in the 1930's.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I had never read anything written by this author, but I know I will be trying more of her work. This was a nice mystery with several suspects, that kept me wondering. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, characters and plot.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eva Müller

    I like detective stories myself, they make me laugh, whereas real crime isn’t funny. An alternate title for this book could be PSA: Don’t solve your own crimes at home because it really drives that point home. Early in the book Greenville and Rockingham, two friends of the missing man, discover his suitcase with his passport. Rockingham immediately declares “I’m a law-abiding man, not one of those half-baked fools who think criminal investigation is the province of the amateur.” and demands that I like detective stories myself, they make me laugh, whereas real crime isn’t funny. An alternate title for this book could be PSA: Don’t solve your own crimes at home because it really drives that point home. Early in the book Greenville and Rockingham, two friends of the missing man, discover his suitcase with his passport. Rockingham immediately declares “I’m a law-abiding man, not one of those half-baked fools who think criminal investigation is the province of the amateur.” and demands that they call the police. After they do this and Inspector Macdonald is on the case he makes it clear that he wants “no Sherlocking around”. And while Greenville does at first do some Sherlocking, he soon discovers “that there wasn’t any glamour about a murder case in which you knew the parties involved.” The author spends a lot of time patting herself on the shoulder and saying “Look how much more realistic my stories are than those of those other writers who let lords or old ladies with no police experience solve cases!” And yes, in real life amateurs shouldn’t try to solve cases on their own. The thing is, in real life, there are also far fewer murderers whose plan to get the inheritance quicker/rid of the unfaithful husband/rid of their lover’s inconvenient partner involves carefully planned quadruple-bluffs. But that’s exactly what the murderer in Bats in the Belfry does. And he does it well. The mystery is cleverly crafted and doesn’t require a ridiculous amount of coincidences to work. It’s a shame that this got overshadowed by the author’s condescending attitude. Otherwise, Inspector Macdonald is a character that is interesting without sliding too much into the quirky-for-the-sake-of-quirkiness field. When he doesn’t complain about amateurs meddling in police-work he is quite funny and not some genius asshole who insults everyone who disagrees with him. But sadly, we don’t get to see too much of Macdonald in this book since a lot of the plot focusses on the people involved in the crime and they are at best bland and at worst annoying. It shows that Lorac was a very prolific writer who wrote several books per year. While the mystery is good and definitely not formulaic, the characters are rather one-dimensional. ARC received from NetGalley

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    The opening to ‘Bats in the Belfry’ has to be one of the best openings I’ve read in this series – a family gather at a funeral and talk turns to murder and the best way to dispose of a body. An opening that instantly leads us to wonder who will be the victim and who will be the murderer. It also cleverly introduces us to all the main players in this mystery. In the space of a few pages the reader learns of the personalities and possible disputes that feature in the book. Unlike the majority of ‘c The opening to ‘Bats in the Belfry’ has to be one of the best openings I’ve read in this series – a family gather at a funeral and talk turns to murder and the best way to dispose of a body. An opening that instantly leads us to wonder who will be the victim and who will be the murderer. It also cleverly introduces us to all the main players in this mystery. In the space of a few pages the reader learns of the personalities and possible disputes that feature in the book. Unlike the majority of ‘cosy crime’ this one is solved successfully by a policeman, Inspector MacDonald. Although initially we have two amateur sleuths – a journalist and an architect – for the most part the crime is solved by the trusted Scotland Yard. This book makes for a wonderful example of an early police procedural novel and reading one from 1937 is fascinating. There is also a fantastic atmosphere in this book. The ‘Belfry Studio’ where the body is discovered missing a head and hands, is a tall, crumbling, gothic building, a place where you can sense evil lurking and a place that attracts all kinds of nefarious people. As the book is set in London, we are also treated to a brilliant passage where two characters are having a conversation surrounded by fog. You feel spooked as you read it, you don’t know who might be lurking and as the characters say ‘a fog’s no place to discuss odd doings.’ I enjoyed this book. I like the police procedural element and I loved the atmosphere. The discovery of the body and the way it is hidden is certainly a lot darker than most cosy crimes and that made the book for me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    E.C.R. Lorac’s Bats in the Belfry:A London Mystery was written during the ‘golden age’ of British crime fiction in the 1930s. Loving London as I do, I thought this mystery would be intriguing to read, and I was not wrong. I must admit that I did not figure out who the murderer was! Ms. Lorac’s writing was beautifully descriptive and atmospheric. Spooky is another tern that fits this book. The characters in many ways appeared to be a bunch of misfits, but they except one were all friends with one E.C.R. Lorac’s Bats in the Belfry:A London Mystery was written during the ‘golden age’ of British crime fiction in the 1930s. Loving London as I do, I thought this mystery would be intriguing to read, and I was not wrong. I must admit that I did not figure out who the murderer was! Ms. Lorac’s writing was beautifully descriptive and atmospheric. Spooky is another tern that fits this book. The characters in many ways appeared to be a bunch of misfits, but they except one were all friends with one having a female ward. What a collection of people! I really liked the Chief Inspector. I liked him more than any of the other characters. This mystery among others are published by British Library Crime Classics, and classic this one is. If you like classic British mysteries, maybe you might give this one a go!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michaela

    Not as good as other mysteries by her, and the end unsatisfying.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I did not see that coming! What a great twisty turny mystery for fans of Golden Age mysteries.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shoshana

    “Bats in the Belfry” is not a new book; as of this writing it is eighty-two years old. Luckily for us, the publisher decided to reprint it for a twenty-first century audience. The story takes place in London in 1936, but even though it is a period piece the book holds up very well. The first two-thirds of the book proceed in a leisurely pace, but the last third just flies by. There are many historical mysteries being written today, some of them very good indeed in capturing the zeitgeist of the t “Bats in the Belfry” is not a new book; as of this writing it is eighty-two years old. Luckily for us, the publisher decided to reprint it for a twenty-first century audience. The story takes place in London in 1936, but even though it is a period piece the book holds up very well. The first two-thirds of the book proceed in a leisurely pace, but the last third just flies by. There are many historical mysteries being written today, some of them very good indeed in capturing the zeitgeist of the time in which they are set, but there is nothing quite like a book from its own time. Some of the atmospherics are easier to portray than others, of course, but others are more difficult. When we read something written long ago, for example, Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” we expect that things will be very different. Not just manners, or superficial norms, but that the underlying assumptions of life will differ markedly from our own time. This book, set in a recognizable London, with telephones, cars, cigarettes, etc, nevertheless presents us with attitudes and beliefs, taken for granted by the writer and the characters, which historical mysteries have trouble portraying, because we, and the society in which we live, have so markedly changed. Sometimes, it feels to the modern reader that eighty years ago might as well be two hundred and eighty. Yet, in other ways, the book is eminently readable and contemporary. Some of the underlying assumptions in this book which would have been expected and accepted by the people in 1930’s Britain, but which clang notably on twenty-first century ears have to do with morals and morality, ethnicity, male-female relations, class and occupation. I hesitate to say too much as I do not want to spoil other readers’ enjoyment of this book, but I feel I must warn that there are some unpleasant (to my ears) ethnic slurs, none of which would have been surprising or notable to readers then. This book was very enjoyable, ethnic slurs excepted, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a cracking mystery. I should have seen what was coming but the author took me in completely. I am glad I read it and award it five stars. I received an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley for my honest opinion.

  27. 5 out of 5

    France-Andrée

    My second read of this series, excellent mystery. This series does not need to be read in order and it's probably why they are issuing them in ebooks out of order too, this one no 13 is the earliest I could find maybe they are choosing the best of the series? We meet the suspects and maybe the victim at a party where a Elizabeth Leigh introduces the subject (because of a competition for the most clever way to dispose of a body her Club is having) of the best way to make a body disappear, later on My second read of this series, excellent mystery. This series does not need to be read in order and it's probably why they are issuing them in ebooks out of order too, this one no 13 is the earliest I could find maybe they are choosing the best of the series? We meet the suspects and maybe the victim at a party where a Elizabeth Leigh introduces the subject (because of a competition for the most clever way to dispose of a body her Club is having) of the best way to make a body disappear, later one, a body will be discovered and one of the ways will have been used in hiding it. Present are her guardian Bruce Attleton, a has been writer; his wife, a famous actress; a journalist who want to marry Elizabeth, a dramatist and a businessman. Attleton might be being blackmailed so the dramatist, Rockingham, wants the journalist to find the blackmailer while Rockingham and Attleton go to Paris separately. The journalist, Grenville, has a confrontation with the person he thinks is the blackmailer in the man's studio "The Belfry". When Rockingham comes back is it to tell Grenville that Attleton never met him in France, but Grenville has found Attleton suitcase and passport in the interim so they decide to get the police involve. What I really liked about this is I was never sure of my deductions in the end I was right, but I like the feeling of uncertainty in a mystery. I really like how this series is written, getting to know the characters before the murder gives a deeper knowledge of them. It also feels like the detective is not hiding things to the reader, it is something that sometimes annoys me in the Inspector Alleyn series by Ngaio Marsh that she will have on the page her detective tell the twist in the ear of his sergeant (keeping the "surprise" for the reader) so I appreciate when that doesn't happen. A very good mystery, I was a little lost about finding my next Golden Age of Mystery series to explore, but I have found it... I hope they reissue more, but I have some to read for awhile.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    This turned out to be unexpectedly good. I had read some critical and lukewarm reviews but with a couple of caveats, I recommend this to fans of Golden Age British detection. The first warning is that the main detective, “long, lean-faced” Chief Inspector Macdonald, is very colourless, even more so than Inspector French, with whom he has been compared. Secondly, the last chapters contain a gratuitous reference to a Jewish landlord, a character concealing Jewish ancestry and one character’s rabid This turned out to be unexpectedly good. I had read some critical and lukewarm reviews but with a couple of caveats, I recommend this to fans of Golden Age British detection. The first warning is that the main detective, “long, lean-faced” Chief Inspector Macdonald, is very colourless, even more so than Inspector French, with whom he has been compared. Secondly, the last chapters contain a gratuitous reference to a Jewish landlord, a character concealing Jewish ancestry and one character’s rabid anti-semitism. I found the book well-written and the main characters neatly-depicted. The puzzle is interestingly complex and the solution was difficult to work out until very late on. Some of the vivid description of London was reminiscent of and worthy of Margery Allingham. The subtitle is very appropriate. Although Lorac is firmly placed in the second rank of writers, I thought this plot compared well to many from the 1930’s. This edition comes with a short Introduction by Martin Edwards from which we learn:- “The opening scene, set on an evening in March, introduces us to most of the people who will play a central part in the story, including Bruce Attleton and his glamorous wife Sybilla, their friends Thomas Burroughs, Neil Rockingham, and Robert Grenville, and Bruce’s ward Elizabeth. They have gathered following the funeral of Anthony Fell, a young architect from Australia, and “a cousin of sorts” of Bruce’s, who has been killed in a car crash. Before long, the conversation turns to the subject of how to dispose of a body.” [ Lorac, E. C. R.. Bats in the Belfry: A London Mystery (British Library Crime Classics ) (Kindle Locations 39-43). British Library Publishing. Kindle Edition.] 4.5 stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    KayKay

    My talented uncle once told me while most renowned photographers are dominated by males, but the few female who excel in the field usually bring unexpected excitements over their male competitors'. Reasons for that are because female usually pay more attention to detail, and the ways they approach art are very different from that of the male. The same philosophy, of course, applies to writing as well. E.C.R. Lorac was certainly one exceptional female crime writer. "Bats in the Belfry" is one of t My talented uncle once told me while most renowned photographers are dominated by males, but the few female who excel in the field usually bring unexpected excitements over their male competitors'. Reasons for that are because female usually pay more attention to detail, and the ways they approach art are very different from that of the male. The same philosophy, of course, applies to writing as well. E.C.R. Lorac was certainly one exceptional female crime writer. "Bats in the Belfry" is one of the fine examples in the genre from the golden age of crime fiction. The title already says it all because the phrase means "eccentric, crazy." The plot is one crazy journey from start to finish! The master mind behind the crimes gives the authority a puzzling case to crack. An interesting case about police procedural.Beware! There are enough drama to keep readers' minds busy and perplexed until the very last page. I enjoyed Lorac writing immensely. Fans of classic crime fiction will not be disappointed with "Bats in the Belfry."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Ritchie

    Vintage British mystery in which a has-been writer having marital problems disappears. When a headless and handless corpse is found, it's assumed to be him. But is it? And who might have done it? The eccentric foreigner who may have been blackmailing him? One of his supposed friends? His wife? Her lover? Lots of possibilities here, and though I guessed the who midway through, it was still a fun read to the end. Vintage British mystery in which a has-been writer having marital problems disappears. When a headless and handless corpse is found, it's assumed to be him. But is it? And who might have done it? The eccentric foreigner who may have been blackmailing him? One of his supposed friends? His wife? Her lover? Lots of possibilities here, and though I guessed the who midway through, it was still a fun read to the end.

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