Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Death by Sheer Torture” as Want to Read:
Death by Sheer Torture
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Death by Sheer Torture (Perry Trethowan #1)

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  183 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Inspector Perry Trethowan reads in the obituaries that his estranged father has died under peculiar circumstances: he was fooling around with a form of self-torture called strappado. At the request of his supervisor, Peter returns to his ancestral home to determine if any of his cousins or siblings might have helped the old man to his bizarre end.
ebook, 192 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Scribner (first published 1981)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Death by Sheer Torture, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Death by Sheer Torture

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 322)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
BOTTOM LINE: #1 DI Perry Trethrowan, rural Northern England. This classic “house party” cosy is stunningly satirical in treatment, and it's lots of fun, if a mite scatalogical.

Poor Inspector Trethrowan - his entire family is, as the Brits say, “odd”.... and when his Dad gets himself murdered in a particularly splashy way, things only go from bad to worse - although not officially “on the case”, he’s present for the funeral even though he’d thought he’d got shut of the family decades ago. His ho
Aug 05, 2013 Dorian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of Barnard's Perry Trethowan mysteries. Detective Inspector Trethowan is sent off to his family stately home to lend a hand in the investigation into his father's death - his father having, most embarrassingly, expired in a strappado machine, attired in spangled tights. And the available suspects include Aunt Sybilla (ex set designer), Uncle Lawrence (wheelchair-bound, semi-senile minor poet), Aunt Kate (jolly-hockey-sticks fan of Adolf Hitler), and sister Christobel (utterly w ...more
Oct 18, 2009 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, fiction
As this, the first in Barnard's brief series featuring Scotland Yard detective Perry Trethowan, begins, Perry has just learned of the death of his estranged father. Worse still, the elder Trethowan was found in one of his own torture devices. Although it's the last thing he wants to do, Perry must go to the family estate in Northumberland to help in the investigation, renewing ties with his eccentric family after a 14-year absence. Surprisingly enough, the book is rather light-hearted, and it is ...more
Apr 24, 2011 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the review quotes on my edition of this book is from a wisely unnamed reviewer for theChicago Tribune: "Robert Barnard has never produced anything but four-star suspense." The other quotes make it plain Barnard's real fortes are wit and ingenuity; if he ever tried to write a suspenseful novel, I've yet to come across it. He triumphs in the same sort of mystery subgenre as Colin Watson; his books are less outright comedies than Watson's, but they have if anything a more lingering clevernes ...more
Lukasz Pruski
"Death by Sheer Torture" is another pleasant and fast read from Robert Barnard, yet I find the novel weaker than two other books by the same author that I have recently read ("Death of an Old Goat", reviewed here, and "Blood Brotherhood" here). Mr. Barnard's wonderfully acerbic and sardonic writing style is largely missing here; also, there is not enough of his trademark black humor. The novel reads almost like a serious mystery.

The story takes place in very late 1970s or in 1980. Perry Trethow
Andy Love
This is a fun mystery about a police detective who becomes embroiled in the investigation of the death of his (estranged) father - who had been part of a famous family of English eccentrics (clearly based on the real family of eccentric Mitford daughters), all still living in family estate. Perry Trethowan's investigation reacquaints him with his odd and offputting aunts, uncles and cousins, and slowly forces him to take the role in the family that his family had always expecting him to take.
Mary Kay  Kare
Aug 10, 2015 Mary Kay Kare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-british
As far as I can remember, this is the first Barnard I ever read. I found it really funny and was disappointed for some time that others of his were not so hilarious. However, Barnard is such a good writer I was won over. Somehow though, I had got away from reading him and am rediscovering him with great pleasure. Highly recommended, especially if you don't get on with your family.
The whole thing was sheer torture from beginning to end, and if I confess that I enjoyed it now and then, you will say, I suppose that that, at least, I got from my father. Now that it's all out in the open, though, couldn't we call it a day? You can put it out of your mind, and I can go on with my life. I do have a job of work to do. ~Perry Trethowan (final paragraph)

It was a very embarrassing way for a policeman's father to be found dead: dressed in what Inspector Perry Trethowan's superior of
Jul 29, 2014 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Quite enjoyable. I was a bit worried because I tried another Barnard book and found the dialogue and character development simply awful, but this book did not suffer from the same problems, rather I was left wondering why the different in quality between the two books. But regardless, a nice substitute for Dame Agatha - good, cozy mystery.
Feb 07, 2015 Corey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was pretty good.
Tasha Cooper
It turns out that I had seen a production of this book on tv (either TVO or PBS) which turned out to be rather unfortunate, as I think it affected my attitude toward the book. I normally prefer to read the book before watching an enactment. At any rate, I don't think this is one my favourite of Barnard's books - he can be a bit hit and miss with me and this was a bit of a miss, though I can't quite put my finger on what I didn't care for.
Jan 08, 2009 B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An old man from an eccentric family dies while on a torture machine. A young policeman, broken off from that family, helps with the investigation. Very funny
Paula Montgomery
Sep 22, 2011 Paula Montgomery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tongue in cheek -- mystery that is a fast read. The family dysfunctional twists and turns were all tied together in a satisfying way.
Dec 13, 2012 Polly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a profound or moving book, but a very enjoyable, and somewhat snarky mystery.
Jun 13, 2011 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of obscure (to me) references to art and literature. Fairly good mystery.
Sep 05, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, england
This book was sheer enjoyment from start to finish.
Jacqueline Vick
Mar 21, 2011 Jacqueline Vick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Hysterical dry British Humor.
Victoria marked it as to-read
Feb 09, 2016
Kym marked it as to-read
Feb 06, 2016
Joy rated it it was amazing
Feb 03, 2016
Mary Leah Traeger
Mary Leah Traeger marked it as to-read
Jan 10, 2016
Donna47 rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2016
Jan Frame
Jan Frame marked it as to-read
Dec 06, 2015
Lisa Kushner
Lisa Kushner rated it liked it
Dec 06, 2015
Jennifer S. Rubin
Jennifer S. Rubin marked it as to-read
Nov 15, 2015
Sarah rated it liked it
Nov 02, 2015
Beiza added it
Oct 29, 2015
Elizabeth rated it liked it
Nov 26, 2015
Sharon4 rated it really liked it
Oct 24, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Precious Blood (Gregor Demarkian, #2)
  • Parting Breath  (Inspector Sloan #7)
  • The Cape Cod Mystery (Asey Mayo, #1)
  • A Wreath for Rivera (Roderick Alleyn, #15)
  • Our Lady Of Darkness (Sister Fidelma, #10)
  • Puppet For A Corpse
  • Faithful Unto Death (Chief Inspector Barnaby, #5)
  • The Bat
  • Death Dines In
  • Mourinho: Anatomy Of A Winner
  • Shallow Grave (Bill Slider,#7)
  • The Windsor Knot (Elizabeth MacPherson, #5)
  • Murder at the ABA
  • Murder in the Holy City (Sir Geoffrey Mappestone, #1)
  • The Secret House of Death
Aka Bernard Bastable.

Robert Barnard (born 23 November 1936) is an English crime writer, critic and lecturer.

Born in Essex, Barnard was educated at the Royal Grammar School in Colchester and at Balliol College in Oxford. His first crime novel, A Little Local Murder, was published in 1976. The novel was written while he was a lecturer at University of Tromsø in Norway. He has gone on to write more t
More about Robert Barnard...

Other Books in the Series

Perry Trethowan (5 books)
  • Death And The Princess (Perry Trethowan, #2)
  • The Case Of The Missing Brontë (Perry Trethowan, #3)
  • Bodies (Perry Trethowan, #4)
  • The Cherry Blossom Corpse (Perry Trethowan, #5)

Share This Book