Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"This Is All British Wit"

By Dermot Morrah.
Harper & Brothers.
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography identifies the person who was probably the author of this book as follows: "Morrah, Dermot Michael Macgregor (1896–1974), journalist and herald."

This was apparently Morrah's only detective novel. Follow the links for fuller reviews:
Another mystery novel set at Oxford appeared the same year as Morrah's book, J. C. Masterman's 'An Oxford Tragedy' (1933). It is nowhere as pleasant, mainly being a gloomy and depressing psychological study, whereas Morrah's novel is a complexly plotted mystery story. Both novels focus on a group of dons, both administrators and professors, with the students having a small supporting role in the background. Both take place at a single, fictitious Oxford college. Both have plots about academic disputes concerning a scholar's life work. It is unclear which book was published first. — Mike Grost, A GUIDE TO CLASSIC MYSTERY AND DETECTION ("Dermot Morrah")
This is a wonderful academic mystery—thoroughly steeped in atmosphere and brimming over with witty professors, dotty dons, and eager undergraduates. There's a couple of mild and discreet love interests, but the romances don't overshadow the main event and the detection going on. — Bev Hankins, MY READER'S BLOCK (July 3, 2013)
This is an entertaining light-hearted example of the Golden Age detective story, with some pleasant humorous touches thrown in. — Ray O'Leary, MYSTERY*FILE (5 August 2010)
Like many Golden Age novels, it flags a bit in the later stages, but overall it's great fun and conveys the college scene very well. The theme of "scholarly rectitude" is not dissimilar from the theme of Dorothy L. Sayers' much more famous 'Gaudy Night', and frankly this novel is a swifter and livelier read. — Martin Edwards, DO YOU WRITE UNDER YOUR OWN NAME? (19 July 2013)
Of the many academic mysteries out there this is one of the best from the Golden Age. Satiric, clever, with a very dry British humor - they don't seem to write them like this anymore. — John, PRETTY SINISTER BOOKS (January 12, 2012)
Highly praised in 'The Catalogue of Crime', this early Oxford detective novel is one of the best examples of Golden Age British mystery as people imagine all Golden Age mystery to be: amateur detection by determinedly bright and witty Oxford academics, ancient artifacts, dotty dons, servants who drop all their aitches, beastly bearded Russians, discrete love interest. — Curt, GAD Wiki
This is a delightfully dry book - if you're looking for action, keep looking - this is all British wit, entertaining conversation peppered occasionally with Latin quotations, conflicting alibis, mistaken identities, red herrings and that indefinable attraction that mysteries dripping with college ambiance seem to have. — Yvette, IN SO MANY WORDS (March 30, 2012)

Category: Detective fiction

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