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A Speedy Death (Mrs. Bradley, #1)
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A Speedy Death (Mrs. Bradley #1)

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  429 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Dr Beatrice Bradley is elderly, ugly, has darkly sharp insights and an extremely wicked tongue. 1929 genteel country house guests are shocked by the death of their famous guest, world traveler Mountjoy, in a bathtub. Suspects include his quiet (but extremely competent) fiancee Eleanor, pompous Alastair and forceful son Garde, engaged to lovely Dorothy, plus curious natural ...more
Paperback, Black Dagger Crime, 192 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Chivers Audio Books (first published 1929)
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May 18, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite being listed as ‘Mrs Bradley 2’ this is actually the first Mrs Bradley mystery. As I am pretty obsessive about reading series in order, this seems a pretty silly mistake for the publisher to have made. The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop is the second book in a series which spanned 66 novels featuring Mrs Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley – psychoanalyst and amateur sleuth. Although a lady in her fifties when we first meet her, the author has great fun in poking fun at her looks and dress sen ...more
May 06, 2014 Uncle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Mrs. Bradley was dry without being shrivelled, and birdlike without being pretty. She reminded Alastair Bing, who was afraid of her, of the reconstruction of a pterodactyl he had once seen in a German museum. -Gladys Mitchell, Speedy Death

Gladys Mitchell’s first published novel, Speedy Death (1929), takes place in an English country house, a classic setting familiar to readers of “Golden Age” murder mysteries. Those seated around Alastair Bing’s dining room table grow restive at the apparent la
Jun 30, 2014 C. rated it it was amazing
This was glorious. Why do I never get invited to house parties where someone is murdered? Why don't I know any frivolous young men named Bertie?
Jun 14, 2016 John rated it it was ok
Alastair Bing, the irascible master of Chaynings Court, is holding a house party that includes the crone-like psychoanalyst Beatrice Lestrange Bradley. When the internationally renowned explorer Everard Mountjoy, recently affianced to Alastair's daughter Eleanor, is found drowned in the bath, it looks as things could hardly get any worse. But they could. It proves that "Everard" was actually a woman . . .

I guffawed several times while reading this purported detective novel -- usually at the kind
Cathy Cole
Nov 26, 2014 Cathy Cole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one example of having my expectations splintered due to watching the BBC's "Mrs. Bradley Mysteries" before reading this book. In the television series, Mrs. Bradley is portrayed by the elegant Diana Rigg, so I had her appearance firmly fixed in my mind. Gladys Mitchell's Mrs. Bradley could not be more different-- and it took me half the book to get Diana Rigg out of my head!

Gladys Mitchell's Mrs. Bradley is old, small, and the words used to describe her are "bird" (think vulture, not son
May 11, 2014 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: GavReads
Shelves: 2014-books
I discovered Gladys Mitchell from Gav of GavReads and she did not disappoint. This is the first of her 60+ mysteries featuring Mrs. Bradley who seems to be the polar opposite of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. Her physical description is vivid and repulsive which sort of matches her overbearing personality. She is visiting friends when two murders occur and while some of the characters were not fleshed out, the story hooked me and Mrs. Bradley's investigative skills owe a little to Sherlock Holme ...more
Pretty odd! I had come across Gladys Mitchell only in the diaries and letters of Philip Larkin, and for some reason thought it was a pseudonym for a male author, but it seems not. A murder happens - or does it? - at an English country house. Everyone tramples over the supposed crime scene and destroys evidence madly in all directions. This is the first of many novels featuring an amateur sleuth who is also a psychoanalyst (although it is really hard to see how this progresses, given the outcome) ...more
1929, #1 Dr. Beatrice Bradley, Chayning Court, rural England; classic Manor House style but with very dark edges.

The death of the famous world traveler Mountjoy in the bathtub isn’t the worst thing that happens to a genteel houseparty, but it sets the stage and puts all the pieces in play immediately the story opens. The darkly sharp insights of Mrs. Bradley (not to mention her extremely wicked tongue) serve to spice the goings-on rather nicely, as we ramble from room to room in the large old h
Gillian Kevern
I think this might be my favourite Mrs Bradley book I've read to date! It keeps more closely to the tenets of the detective genre of this era (first published 1929, during the Golden Age of Crime), so the story is tighter and more focused (if there is one thing that I don't enjoy about Mitchell's mysteries is her tendency to ramble). Except for the One Major Thing, but she alludes pretty freely to that throughout her other stories, so I think if you've read any other Mrs Bradley's, you will take ...more
Dec 04, 2015 Francis rated it really liked it
I have meaning to read a Gladys's Mitchell mystery for some time now but where to find one? Seems she has been out of favor with publishing companies for awhile, however Thomas and Mercer an Amazon imprint has now republished all or many (I'm not sure) Mrs. Bradley mysteries and they are very reasonably priced. And, if you are an Unlimited subscriber, well read away because they are all available with an Unlimited subscription.

OK, Mrs Bradley if you are not already aware is a bit different. Firs
Apr 03, 2014 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, british
I have watch and enjoyed the Mrs. Bradley mysteries on PBS, starring Diana Riggs, so the Mrs. Bradley character in this first book in the (long) series was a shock! Nothing at all like the Diana Riggs character, she appeared to me to be a cross between Miss Marple and one of the witches from Macbeth - many times in the text, she is described as cackling and she clearly comes across as an intelligent but not nice person.

The mystery itself I found disappointing after a very promising beginning - a
Burgundy Rose
Mar 18, 2013 Burgundy Rose rated it liked it
Very odd book, which is exactly what I said about the first Michell I read, The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop. It's very eccentric and sometimes frankly absurd (the identity of Mountjoy is preposterous) but it's still compelling. There's a lot of ethical problems in this book which are very casually addressed (the final confession is disturbing - what are we supposed to do with that?) Mitchell has a lot of personality but I feel her books suffer from a clear lack of consistency and general tighten ...more
Dec 01, 2014 sslyb added it
Shelves: uk, kindle
I can't really decide how much I liked this book. A Speedy Death is the first of a mystery series. It is not the typical formula for a who-done-it. Mrs. Bradley is a quirky character, much more proactive than most (if not all) of the lead characters in mystery series. I'm going to have to read more of the series to decide about the birdlime, catlike, reptilian Mrs. Bradley.
Jul 18, 2009 Patty rated it liked it
One of those books that is a little too cute to be a straight-forward mystery and a little to sober to be a farce. Lots of complicated twists and turns, red herrings and second guesses, but in the end, not very satisfying to read.
Greg Tillman
Jul 14, 2016 Greg Tillman rated it it was ok
I've tried two in the series. I like the Mrs Bradley character, but there's a lot of focus on who did what and when; probably good if you like trying to solve the mystery, but it was a little much for me.
Oct 17, 2016 Mark rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2017 Robyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, library, kindle
Unlimited free trial | I tend to give the first book in a long-running series a little leeway, because I think it's legitimate for an author to take some time to settle into her groove with the characters and such. This was perfectly ok, but not in any way great. I don't see that it can be called a mystery, since there was only one suspect all the way through, no red herrings were dangled, no attempt at misdirection. After having just finished six Georgette Heyer mysteries, I was unendingly grat ...more
Christine Cody
Dec 05, 2016 Christine Cody rated it really liked it
Wonderful! Before the first chapter ends, a famous world explorer is found in the manor bathroom, discovered not only to be dead but also to be a woman and not the man all the guests knew! Complicating matters, “he” had been engaged to the prim, quiet, and rather plain, elder daughter of hot-tempered rich man, Alastair Bing. While some deem it either an accident or suicide, two guests, including Mrs. Bradley, are certain it was murder...and the hi-jinks begin. Throughout this entertaining book, ...more
Whistlers Mom
Gladys Mitchell's first published book appeared in 1929 and introduced eccentric psycho-analyst Mrs. Bradley. Mitchell continued to write until her death in 1983 and 66 books featured this unique character. This first outing is more than passing strange in some ways, but for a die-hard Mrs. Bradley fan, it's fascinating to see the birth of the great lady.

Mitchell can't be accused of sugar-coating her detective's personal short-comings. The "inhuman malignity" of her expression is said to remind
H. M. Snow
Feb 20, 2014 H. M. Snow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having watched the Masterpiece Mystery! version of the Mrs Bradley Mysteries, I had some idea of how the story would go. From reading other reviews, I was prepared for the character of Mrs Bradley to vary quite a bit-- well, almost entirely-- from that portrayed by Diana Riggs with such elan. All the same, I was still surprised. Pleasantly surprised, I admit, but surprised all the same. As a whodunit, I thought Mitchell was resolving it far too early, until I realized that the mystery was only s ...more
Dec 27, 2013 Min rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, 2013
I saw the film before reading the book. Though I loved Diana Rigg, I kind of like the literary Mrs. Bradley a little more. While she is not liked by most of the other characters in the book, she herself is fascinating.
The mystery was pretty well done, with a lot of suspects and a few (perhaps misleading) clues. Events in the book are only somewhat akin to those in the film, so if you've seen the film you might well still enjoy the book (and vice versa). I think the part that threw me the most wa
Nov 23, 2016 Lynn rated it it was ok
Such a weird muddle of murders and attempted murders. The first character to be murdered is dead before we even met the character! I really felt the book started out terribly confused and frantic with too many explanations and lots of backtracking. I almost stopped reading, but I had assigned myself to finish a book by this author in preparation for reading the spoof "Ask A Policeman."

What ultimately makes this book hard to swallow is the amorality and callousness with which the murders and woul
Jan 09, 2013 John rated it really liked it
I thought this was a really good read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The very first Mrs Bradley book from 1929 in which "The Great Gladys" set the scene for many more great stories over several decades to come, during which time Mrs B. mysteriously stayed the same age'

Difficult to review without giving the game away, it has all the elements that make up the English Country House Murder Mystery and some that are a bit weird and remain unexplained.

I love the fact that the author has the ability to cr
Jan 23, 2015 Mltanner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was her first venture into the mystery genre and her creation of her premier sleuth. It is difficult to identify with this loathsome creature, but eventually you can admire her clever unraveling of the characters and their culpability. The ending is surprising, because it goes against the rules of mystery plot devices. The book made me want to read others in the series. It is in many ways a good-old mystery experience of the cozy variety, given that the sleuth is really not all that cozy!
Sep 26, 2015 Maire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this golden-age mystery series in a bookshop in England and just had to start in right away. It was a good read, and I liked the main character. However, I had two main concerns that make me hesitate to start the next one right away: the tone was a little too flippant about two murders, and the ending was just plain weird (and a little morally concerning). I might pick up the next book if I'm in the mood for something silly (especially as I read that they get better), because I am still ...more
Jan C
May 07, 2014 Jan C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, england, 2014
I found this enjoyable. Although I did have difficulty separating Diana Rigg's Mrs. Bradley from the description of Mrs. Bradley in the book. Still into psychology, however.

The book starts with a bizarre killing in the bathtub. And the violence continues. And, of course, this was at a house party at someone's country estate.

Some of this was guessable but I really didn't get the final murderer.

A lot of psychoanalysis in this book. Difficult to discuss without giving too much away.
Mary Lou
Dec 30, 2015 Mary Lou rated it liked it
This was Mitchell’s first book, published back in the 1920’s. She’s ranked with Christie, and Sayers, and other early crime greats. I found this book a bit disjointed, but I was intrigued by the ‘detective’, Mrs. Lestrange Bradley. She’s intelligent and odd enough to make me look up another one or two of the sixty some books Mitchell wrote with her as the main sleuth. This one certainly had an odd twist. I saw it coming - but not as soon as I should have.
Lucy Barnhouse
I bought this book largely because the cover design is so nice, and because I have a nearly insatiable appetite for interwar mysteries. I wasn't, quite frankly, expecting the prose and plot to be as good as they were! All due respect to the fabulous Diana Rigg, but this dark, twisted tragicomedy struck me as infinitely preferable to the arch, artificial "coziness" of the TV series adapting Mitchell's novels, of which I'll be seeking out more.
Oscar Castillo
Jul 12, 2016 Oscar Castillo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I know it's a book written over a century ago, but I started expecting some of Agatha Christie's genius work. Instead I found characters so blind and awfully developed that I almost didn't want to finish the book. I did finish it but what a disappointing experience. Won't be picking any more books from Gladys Mitchell. Period
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Aka Malcolm Torrie, Stephen Hockaby.

Born in Cowley, Oxford, in 1901, Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell was the daughter of market gardener James Mitchell, and his wife, Annie.

She was educated at Rothschild School, Brentford and Green School, Isleworth, before attending Goldsmiths College and University College, London from 1919-1921.

She taught English, history and games at St Paul's School, Brentfo
More about Gladys Mitchell...

Other Books in the Series

Mrs. Bradley (1 - 10 of 66 books)
  • The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop (Mrs. Bradley, #2)
  • The Longer Bodies (Mrs. Bradley, #3)
  • The Saltmarsh Murders (Mrs. Bradley, #4)
  • Death at the Opera (Mrs. Bradley, #5)
  • The Devil at Saxon Wall (Mrs. Bradley, #6)
  • Dead Men's Morris (Mrs. Bradley, #7)
  • Come Away, Death (Mrs. Bradley, #8)
  • St. Peter's Finger (Mrs. Bradley, #9)
  • Printer's Error (Mrs. Bradley, #10)
  • Brazen Tongue (Mrs. Bradley, #11)

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“Look here, Mrs. Bradley," he said. "I feel a pretty frightful bounder telling you all this about the poor girl, but I think some woman ought to know about it. On Wednesday night, yes, last night, Eleanor came into my bedroom at about half-past twelve and--and wanted to stay there! I thought it was a ghost at first. I had terrible difficulty in getting rid of her. In fact, I had to get out of bed and shove her outside and lock the door. Choice, isn't it?"
"Of course you will lock your door tonight," she said.
"You bet I shall," Bertie said fervently, "and nothing short of the house catching fire is going to persuade me to open it.”
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