Murder at Standing Stone Manor (A Langham & Dupré Mystery, 8)

Written by Eric Brown
Review by Mark Spencer

In this, the eighth installment of the Langham & Dupré mystery series, newlyweds Donald Langham and Maria Dupré have moved from London’s fashionable Kensington district to the snowy English countryside: the Yew Tree Cottage, to be precise, within eyesight of “the imposing bulk of Standing Stone Manor.”

The novel-writing Donald, whose library is arranged in “alphabetical and chronological” order, and his publishing-agent wife, Maria, who is also accomplished in French cookery, are busy setting up house while meeting the local inhabitants of 1950s Ingoldby-over-Water. They are an eclectic group. There is youthful, orphaned, and naive Nancy Robertshaw; her uncle, the retired Professor of Greek, Edwin Robertshaw, a “cantankerous old duffer” and a standing stone enthusiast; Nancy’s aunt Xandra; and her cousin Randall. Also, the eccentric farmer Richard Wellbourne—who plays Bach, on his violin, to his cows—and his wife Harriet. And, living in a caravan on the Wellspring Farm, young Roy Vickers, a Dickens-reading RAF veteran. Or is he who he says he is?

Soon, it becomes evident that not all is idyllic. Many long-standing tensions are just below the surface. Add to the mix Professor Robertshaw’s standing stone theory, land-ownership disputes, blackmail, and even murder. Our detective couple has a lot to untangle. Brown’s characters are believable, for the most part. His literary allusions are apt, and his prose is economical. Fans of the series will not be disappointed and new readers will want to pursue Langham and Dupré’s earlier adventures.