Pamela Branch (1920−1967) seamlessly blends homicide and humour in her four novels featuring a host of picaresque characters including (in the case of Murder Every Monday and The Wooden Overcoat) members of the Asterisk Club, who need only name the club as beneficiary in their wills in order to avail themselves of its comforts and unique services. According to her more famous contemporary, Christianna Brand, she was was ‘the funniest lady you ever knew’, and the Times Literary Supplement compared her third novel, Murder Every Monday, to the work of Evelyn Waugh.
She married twice, was, according to her friends, entertaining, glamorous, beautiful and charming, and the greatest mystery of her work is why it has not received more recognition since her untimely death from cancer at the age of forty-seven.
(And if your appetite for comic crime requires further sating, then we also have more from Laurence Meynell and his indefatigable amateur detective Hooky Hefferman.)
Of Lesley Glaister, our second author new to The Murder Room this month, the Independent on Sunday declared that ‘[her] rounded gift is to show life as it really is’. She was ‘discovered’ by the novelist Hilary Mantel when she attended a course given by the Arvon Foundation in 1989, and since then has consistently produced novels that defy categorisation.
With a style both literary and page-turning she won the Somerset Maugham and Betty Trask awards for Honour Thy Father, and has garnered both loyal readers and critical acclaim. Her Barbara Pym-esque examination of human foibles in all their minutiae makes reading her novels an experience as rewarding as it is satisfying, and her skill in examining the complexity of human relationships is second to none.