An elderly woman is found dead in her Yorkshire manor home, The Grange. Her head has been bashed in. Yet nothing has been stolen, so robbery wasn’t the motive. Detective Inspector Blake Hartley is called to investigate, assisted by his sergeant Ibrahim Khan.
The Grange, however, holds old memories for Hartley. His mother worked there as a cook, and he spent many hours in the kitchen and the grounds. He’s also keenly aware of the heir to the estate, who always treated Hartley with upper-class disdain for the working and servant classes.
In addition to his police job, Hartley just happens to be an ordained Anglican priest – a Reverend Detective Inspective, as it were. He’s not a paid priest but can function as one (including for counseling and confession).
The Bradshaw Mystery, published in 2012, is the first of eight Blake Hartley detective novels by John Waddington-Feather. The author has also written a multi-volume historical saga set between 1910 and 1956; a collection of short stories; children’s stories; a book about the Yorkshire dialect; and a poetry collection. He’s even written a morality play.
This story involves quite a tour of the Yorkshire countryside, moving from manor to town, to other towns, and to other rural areas. Hartley and Khan find themselves having to navigate the antiques trade, drug smuggling, police department politics, and long-buried passions. And there’s no want of suspects – the heir, the housekeeper, the gardener, and several shadowy figures barely walking a line between crime and the law. Hartley also finds himself having to navigate his own class prejudices and resentments. For his part, Khan has to deal with race prejudice and a Pakistani family that harbors a fair number of criminals.
It’s a fun read for a mystery fan, and contains enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing (and entertained).
Photograph by Karen Arnold via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.