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Thou Shell of Death
Nicholas Blake
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Thou Shell of Death (Nigel Strangeways #2)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  175 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Nigel Strangeways is off to a Christmas houseparty hosted by Fergus O’Brien, a legendary World War I flying ace now retired from private life, who has received a series of mocking letters predicting that he will be murdered on Boxing Day.

His guest list includes everyone who could even remotely be suspected of making the threats, including several people who stand to profi
Hardcover, [for] the Crime Club
Published 1971 by Collins (first published 1936)
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Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicholas Blake (the pen name of Cecil Day-Lewis) introduced his fictional detective Nigel Strangeways in A Question of Proof, set in a boys prep school. This second mystery takes place in a more traditional setting, a house party, albeit with a twist. Nigel Strangeways is asked by his uncle, luckily the Assistant Commissioner of Police, to take on a new case. Fergus O'Brien, famous flying ace from WWI and intrepid hero, is staying at the Dower House in Strangeways aunt's estate. He has been rece ...more
Apr 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
Nicholas Blake, who wrote about twenty detective novels starting in the mid-1930s, was actually the poet Cecil Day Lewis. A fairly distinguished poet too, who was made Poet Laureate in 1968. Thou Shell of Death, written in 1936, is in some ways a typical English detective novel of the period – all country houses and Oxford dons and cigars and port and that sort of thing. His detective, Nigel Strangeways, is an aristocrat and an Oxford graduate, and a strictly amateur sleuth. As you might expect ...more
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nigel Strangeways, private investigator, is invited to spend Christmas with flying ace, Fergus O’Brian, who has rented the Dower House from his aunt and uncle. Fergus’s life appears to be under threat from an anonymous letter writer. Nigel finds himself part of a Christmas house party with a selection of people who might or might not be the letter writer.

When Fergus is found shot dead with his own revolver on Boxing Day morning in circumstances which indicate it may have been suicide Nigel is fa
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cindy by: Nancy Oakes
Shelves: mysteries, 2009, blog, series
My friend Nancy has been reading some Nicholas Blake and after reading her review, I decided to see what my library has of his books. I found an anthology with three books: Thou Shell of Death, The Beast Must Die, and The Corpse in the Snowman.

The first one, Thou Shell of Death, features regular Blake sleuth and private investigator Nigel Strangeways. A famous aviator has been receiving death threats and wants a detective on hand to try to catch the killer during a Christmas dinner party. But c
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too many uninteresting suspects. Nowhere near the dry fun of the first book of the series.
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, favorites, own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave the first book in this series four stars, and I think this one is substantially better, so I guess I have to give it five. Written in 1936, and the second in the series of Nigel Strangeways mysteries by C. Day-Lewis. Very, very reminiscent of the later Peter Wimsey novels (in fact one of the characters in this one is reading "the latest Sayers novel"--and in 1936 only Busman's Honeymoon was left to be written). Nigel is quite similar to Lord Peter (although not titled), and in this one he ...more
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, anglophilia
One of the earliest Nigel Strangeways mysteries, and very satisfying in the Golden Age style of classic British mystery novels.

Fergus O'Brien, World War I flying ace and a renowned adventurer, has been receiving threatening letters that intimate he will be killed on the day after Christmas. So he asks Nigel Strangeways to join the party. This particular Christmas party also contains the beautiful but unscrupulous Lucilla, the attractive young explorer Georgia Cavendish, her financier brother Edw
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With his second Nigel Strangeways novel, Nicholas Blake (the pen name of poet Cecil Day Lewis) matured into one of the best mystery writers of the so-called Golden Age. Though Shell of Death takes up many of the conventions of the genre, such as the gathering of all the suspects into a country manor house, and makes them sing due to the strength of characterization and dialogue. You find yourself engrossed in the human relationships as much if not more than the working out of the solution of the ...more
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first experience with Blake and Nigel Strangeways. At first I thought it wasn't strange enough: definitely erudite, but to no good purpose. But as the story warms up the erudition gets less obtrusive and the characters gain depth. Not that everything works (especially not the walnut), but there are lovely moments--conversations, remembrances, and descriptions:
She bent over her frying rashers, if such a one could ever be said to bend, and eyed them with the thin-lipped and complacent regard w
S Dizzy
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From pages 34-35 - Lucilla Thrale certainly lived up to O'Brien's description of "professional peach"; she stepped from the car with the air of Cleopatra disembarking from her "burnished throne": even the bleak Somerset wind grew love-sick with her perfume. She was tall for a woman, blonde as a Nazi's dream, full-figured. "O, rare for Antony," murmured Nigel, as she undulated towards the front door.
Philip Starling overheard him. "Nonsense," he said. "Pick 'em up like that two a penny at Brighto
A little disappointing: the amateur sleuth protagonist is pretty much a cliche who goes about exclaiming phrases such as "By Jove!" and who conveniently remembers vital clues when the story is very near to the end. Also, the way the other chractes keep telling him how brilliant he is when his guesses seem not particularly impressive gets very annoying. Lastly, the police allow him a completely free hand with lying to and entrapping the suspects, explicitly giving a nod and a wink that this is ok ...more
Jul 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a Shakespearean scholar, you might enjoy the references in this book more than I did. Our plucky heroine (I've had enough of them) travels extensively to research the death of her PhD mentor, and the plot takes many, many twists and turns.
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nicholas Blake was the pseudonym of the Poet Laureate, Cecil Day-Lewis. I love crime novels like those of Henning Mankell, etc. but these are more in the manner of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels of Dorothy L Sayers.
Sep 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, about 3 1/2 stars for this mystery by Daniel Day-Lewis's dad, the poet C. Day-Lewis.
Apr 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder mystery with a literary twist. You need a reference source to check the meaning of some of the allusions. An improbable plot, but still a fun read from 1934 Britain.
Unjustly forgotten variation on the no-footprints-in-the-snow murder mystery. Enjoyable.
Dec 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like three and a half: I would have given it four but for the stage-Oirishry when Nigel Strangeways has to pursue the trail in Ireland.
Elsbeth Kwant
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very nice to find a satisfying new detective once in a while. Nicholas Blake provides a good story and interesting characters. Timeless
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable set of characters and quite a complicated story.
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was perhaps my least favourite Blake so far, because the little clues at the beginning stood out so strongly for me that I was very frustrated that Nigel was taking so long to figure it out!
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Michael Kent
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Oct 01, 2015
Miss Prism
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Reading the Detec...: Thou Shell of Death by Nicholas Blake 20 18 Dec 08, 2016 02:40PM  
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Nicholas Blake is the pseudonym of poet Cecil Day-Lewis C. Day Lewis who was born in Ireland in 1904. He was the son of the Reverend Frank Cecil Day-Lewis and his wife Kathleen (nee Squires). His mother died in 1906 and he and his father moved to London where he was brought up by his father with the help of an aunt.

He spent his holidays in Wrexford and regarded himself very much as anglo-irish, al
More about Nicholas Blake...

Other Books in the Series

Nigel Strangeways (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • A Question of Proof (Nigel Strangeways, #1)
  • There's Trouble Brewing (Nigel Strangeways, #3)
  • The Beast Must Die (Nigel Strangeways, #4)
  • The Smiler With the Knife (Nigel Strangeways, #5)
  • Murder with Malice (Nigel Strangeways, #6)
  • The Corpse in the Snowman (Nigel Strangeways, #7)
  • Minute for Murder (Nigel Strangeways, #8)
  • Head of a Traveler (Nigel Strangeways, #9)
  • The Dreadful Hollow (Nigel Strangeways, #10)
  • The Whisper in the Gloom (Nigel Strangeways, #11)

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