Series: Mrs. Bradley Series
The simple village of Saltmarsh, upon Mrs. Bradleys arrival, seems postively bustling with malicious deeds and mysterious activity. A villager is tossed into a crypt, the vicar is roughed up and chained to the quarry pound, strangers scramble atop bungalow roofs, and a housegirl named Meg Tosstick has given birth to an illegitimate child. This last incident would not be notable except for the fact that the girl had been employed at the vicarage and is now kept under veritable lock and guard by the landlord of the local inn. When Meg is found strangled shortly after the August Bank Holiday fete, Mrs. Bradley turns her psychoanalytic sights upon the many residents of Saltmarsh. There is, of course, the vicar, the Rev. Bedivere Coutts, who is rumoured to have fathered the now-missing baby; the vicars puritanical wife and the bumbling young curate (who narrates the tale) also fall under scrutiny. Then there is Mrs. Gatty, a merry old woman who lives in a former lunatic asylum and who likens all acquaintances to corresponding animals--Mrs. Bradley is naturally greeted as Mrs. Crocodile, curate Noel Wells as Mr. Goat, and an ill-tempered financier as Mr. Shark, with only the last person taking offense. The Lowrys run the Mornington Arms Inn where Meg had stayed, and husband and wife seem to be keeping a powerful secret. The strong, secretive Edwy David Burt lives in a solitary bungalow near the sea coast with his actress girlfriend and Negro manservant; this group may or may not be involved. And the prime suspect of the police is undoubtably one Bob Candy, a man with violence in his heritage and status as a slow-witted ex-boyfriend of the murdered girl. Before long Cora, Burts mistress, disappears from the village, and Mrs. Bradley grimly believes that she is not in a touring show but rather still in Saltmarsh, and quite sedentary to boot. An exhumation at Meg Tossticks grave yields results unexpected by everyone but the thoughtful detective. Calling a meeting at the village hall, Mrs. Bradley begins to untangle the strange events; she realizes that, correctly played, justice will take the form of one final murder.
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