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This is book number 1 in the Lady Lupin Mysteries series.
Meet Lady Lupin Lorimer Hastings the young, lovely, scatterbrained and kind-hearted newlywed wife to Andrew, the vicar of St Marks parish in Glanville, Sussex. When it comes to matters clerical, she is rather at sea. Nevertheless, she is determined to make her husband proud of her.... or at least not to embarrass him too badly.
When, on Christmas Eve, Andrew's unpopular, blackmailing curate gets himself murdered, things all get a bit (hilariously) overwhelming for poor out-of-her-depth Lady Lupin: "Who was in your sitting room during that interval? Say four-thirty on Tuesday, and ten or eleven yesterday morning?" "If you had ever lived in a vicarage you wouldn't ask questions like that; people just walk in and out all day long. When Andrew asked me to marry him, he said he was afraid I should find it very quiet here, and what he meant I can't imagine If I wanted quiet I'd rather retire to the Tower of Babel with a saxophone."
Lupin enlists old society pals Duds and Tommy Lethbridge, as well as Andrew's nephew, a British secret service agent, to get at the truth. Lupin refuses to believe that Diana Lloyd, 38-year-old author of the children's detective stories, could've done the deed and casts her net over the other parishioners. But all the suspects seem so nice - very much more so than the victim.
Who Killed the Curate? was first published in 1944 and was the first of four murder mysteries penned by Joan Coggin (1898-1980). Dancing with Death (1947) was reissued most successfully by Galileo in 2022. Her works have very strong plots and are written in a stylish and humorous manner which delighted critics at the time, and will surely equally delight the growing audience for Golden Age Detective fiction.