City planner Arnold Landon takes something of a busman’s holiday. After his widely reported success with identifying a particular kind of medieval barn construction (Murder in the Barn), a historical society asks him to catalogue the library of a manor. The house and property have become the subject of a legal struggle between the current owner, a young woman, and a distant relation, who claims he’s the rightful heir. And looming behind the claim is an American investment company, who seems intent on gaining control of the property.
All the legal maneuvering is of little interest to Landon, who spends a week in the library, absorbed in old books and family property records. He meets the head of the investment company, an elderly man named John Torrance, and, rather inexplicably, the two find a common bond. They even discover a secret tunnel leading from the kitchen.
Landon understands that his new friend is having doubts about his company’s investment plans in Europe. His lieutenants seem more focused on their struggle to succeed him. In the middle of all the investment activities comes the news of a body found nearby. Landon recognizes the man as a guest staying at the same inn he is, but there appears to be no connection to the activities at the manor. Torrance learns that someone is making moves in his company’s stock. And then he’s nearly killed in what looks like an automobile accident.
Murder in the Manor is the second Arnold Landon mystery by British author Roy Lewis, and it’s every bit as good as the first one. Lewis combines such disparate elements as medieval record practices, modern investment activities, a secret tunnel that served the monks of an abbey but now seems to be serving another purpose, and even a bit of romance to create a really fine story.
Lewis is the author of some 60 other mysteries, novels, and short story collections. His Inspector Crow series includes A Lover Too Many, Murder in the Mine, The Woods Murder, Error of Judgment, and Murder for Money, among others. The Eric Ward series, of which The Sedleigh Hall Murder is the first (and originally published as A Certain Blindness in 1981), includes 17 novels. Lewis lives in northern England.
Murder in the Barn by Roy Lewis.
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