Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sheer Torture (Perry Trethowan, #1)” as Want to Read:
Sheer Torture (Perry Trethowan, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sheer Torture (Perry Trethowan #1)

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  199 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Meet the Trethowan family, an eccentric clan that prides itself on nonconformity. Perry, a young police inspector, is the only family member to have broken the tradition. Although the Trethowans disdain his normal lifestyle, they find his services helpful when they discover Perry's father on a bizarre torture machine - murdered.
Paperback, 186 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Allison & Busby (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 Sheer Torture, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sheer Torture

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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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
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
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
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
K.G. McAbee
Aug 14, 2016 K.G. McAbee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up at a book sale--who among us does not love a good book sale?--and thoroughly enjoyed it. An odd premise and an odder family, but I love Perry--Peregrine--and his snarky sense of humor. Plus, first person--for me, first person is a plus for mysteries.

Estranged son and Scotland Yard inspector Perry is called home to investigate the very strange death of his truly weird father. And I thought my family was weird!
Tasha Cooper
Sep 22, 2014 Tasha Cooper rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
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.
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.
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.
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
Colleen Young
Colleen Young rated it really liked it
Sep 23, 2012
Lisa Kushner
Lisa Kushner rated it liked it
Dec 06, 2015
Bethany rated it really liked it
Jul 19, 2014
Nicole rated it it was ok
Nov 23, 2011
Paula rated it liked it
Jan 04, 2013
Saya rated it it was ok
Jun 21, 2014
Baj rated it it was amazing
Jun 12, 2011
Karen rated it really liked it
Dec 05, 2012
Connie rated it really liked it
Jul 16, 2012
Georgia Lengyel
Georgia Lengyel rated it it was amazing
Mar 06, 2012
Yabooklover rated it really liked it
Apr 26, 2016
MumToTwo rated it really liked it
Dec 28, 2016
Scott rated it liked it
Sep 22, 2013
Rstoland rated it it was amazing
Jun 17, 2009
Cece rated it really liked it
Apr 21, 2008
Nick rated it really liked it
Apr 09, 2014
Melissa rated it really liked it
Jul 20, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Parting Breath  (Inspector Sloan #7)
  • The Cape Cod Mystery (Asey Mayo, #1)
  • Precious Blood (Gregor Demarkian, #2)
  • Murder Most Persuasive (An Elizabeth Parker Mystery, #3)
  • A Wreath for Rivera (Roderick Alleyn, #15)
  • The Bat
  • Our Lady Of Darkness (Sister Fidelma, #10)
  • The Blackheath Poisonings: A Victorian Murder Mystery
  • Shallow Grave (Bill Slider,#7)
  • Faithful Unto Death (Chief Inspector Barnaby, #5)
  • Murder at the ABA
  • Puppet For A Corpse
  • Bad Bird
  • Buried by Breakfast (Hemlock Falls Mysteries, #12)
  • Emily Dickinson Is Dead (Homer Kelly, #5)
  • The Case of the Dotty Dowager (WISE Enquiries Agency #1)
  • The Circle (Inspector Henrietta Mallin, #1)
  • Missing Susan (Elizabeth MacPherson, #6)
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

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“(there is no one, but no one, more gullible than a psychiatrist),” 0 likes
More quotes…