Bats in the Belfry

Edith Caroline Rivett (1894–1958) wrote under the pseudonyms E. C. R. Lorac and Carol Carnac. She was a British crime writer who wrote 48 novels as E. C. R. Lorac and another 23 as Carol Carnac. Her first book came out in 1931 and starting in 1932 she published no less than 2 books per year, including 3 in 1958 and 2 more in 1959. She wrote those while in a nursing home.

Rivett published 4 books in 1937, 2 each under the pseudonyms, of which this is one. This is a classic police procedural story featuring Chief Inspector Robert Macdonald of Scotland Yard who appeared in most of the Lorac books.

One of the things I like about this and other classic books is that the authors knew the setting and culture. To sit down in 2020 and write a novel set in 1937 requires research to even come close to the right feel for the story. Rivett lived in London as she wrote her stories. Her descriptions of driving the city streets in this story feels real. Don’t forget that by 1947 that London was gone as was the ’37 culture, thanks to Hitler.

The story opens with a group of theater friends enjoying an evening together when discussion turns to how to hide a body, should the need arise. All in good fun. A week later, one of the group has disappeared and Chief Inspector Macdonald is assigned to the case.

This is a good read. Her books are being reissued by the British Library Crime Classics. Amazon has 16 available, mostly on Kindle.

Mike Lawrence

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