Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Rising of the Moon - Gladys Mitchell

I began to be assailed by doubts... we had no proof that [they]intended to kill us. I was still in a state of suspended panic, but the fairy-gold logic of childhood was reasserting itself, with ultimate hope of victory, in my mind.
The Rising of the Moon has become one of my favourite Mrs. Bradley novels. I had the added novelty of reading this over the Easter period, when the series of murders begins! The story is written as a first person narrative of Master Simon Innes. Mrs Bradley does not enter the story until part way through, which means that a lot of the detective work is carried out by Simon and Keith Innes (13 and 11 years old respectively), brothers who find themselves involved in a mysterious case of serial murders in their small village. The first murder takes place at the Circus, much to the dismay of the boys:

"Heared about the Ripper?" asked Fred. "There won't be any circus this afternoon."

Up to that time it was the most terrible news I had ever heard, for we were too young to have been told outright about the deaths of our parents. We had found that news out gradually, and by putting two and two together; but this was a bolt from the blue.

I think Mitchell is very good at writing tales that include children, possibly because she worked as a teacher. She has an excellent ability to understand and explain children's logic. She employs this well in the book in parts where Simon and Keith explain some of their seemingly erratic behaviour. Such as their illegal activities provoked by their loyalty to family and their need to be seen to be 'brave'.

The book is very atmospheric and includes many eerie descriptions of movements at night time in the light of the full moon, by the deserted river side:

The moon put black shadows in the hedges, and a mist rose out of the river and over the fields. We walked in the middle of the road, Keith holding his pistol by the barrel and I with my sabre at the ready. We did not talk. We kept watch on the treacherous roadside for the murderer. It was not a pleasant walk.

There are lots of twists in this story, which really keep you guessing. I had a suspicion of who the murderer was from early on but as the story progressed I become uncertain and assumed that it must be someone else. I was then surprised to find that the murderer was the person I first suspected after all! When the story ended I still felt that there were things that had happened that I didn't understand. As Simon was narrating the story you only get his impressions of what has happened and therefore the things he doesn't experience or get told about must be missed out. Despite this, I found the novel really kept my attention and was very entertaining.

No comments:

Post a Comment