Crook o’ Lune (A Lancashire Mystery) by E.C.R. Lorac #Mystery #BritishLiterature #CrimeFiction @BL_Publishing #BookTwitter #TuesdayBookBlog

61420160Author: E.C.R. Lorac

First published in 1953, this edition in 2022 by The British Library

Category: British Literature, Crime, Mystery, Fiction


It all began up at High Gimmerdale with the sheep-stealing, a hateful act in the shepherding lands around the bend in the Lune river – the Crook o’ Lune. Then came the fire at Aikengill house and with the leaping of the flames, death, disorder and dangerous gossip came to the quiet moorlands.

Visiting his friends, the Hoggetts, while searching for some farmland to buy up ahead of his retirement, Chief Inspector Robert Macdonald’s trip becomes a busman’s holiday when he is drawn to investigate the deadly blaze and the deep-rooted motives behind the rising spate of crimes.

Crook o’ Lune is an excellent addition to the British Library Crime Classics list, and features Chief Inspector Robert Macdonald from Scotland Yard who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite detectives. Set in the fictitiously named High Gimmerdale on the Lancashire fells. The surrounding countryside is described in wonderfully scenic detail and the writing generally is atmospheric, both in terms of period and location, engaging and easy to read.

To begin we meet Gilbert Woolfall, a Yorkshire businessman who has inherited a rather remote farmhouse called Aikengill from an uncle. He’s enchanted by the area and very tempted to make the move to Aikengill a permanent one. He’s certainly feeling the pull of the peace and beautiful scenery, not to mention the house and the fact it’s part of his history. While Woolfall weighs the pros and cons he takes on the task of sorting through his uncle’s papers, which include the family history. This proves quite helpful when he has an unwelcome visit from the disgruntled and unpleasant rector.

Meanwhile, Chief Inspector Macdonald has a fortnight’s leave which he is delighted to spend with friends in Lunesdale. He’s inherited a substantial legacy and, with future retirement in mind, he has a strong desire to buy a small dairy farm in an area that he loves. His holiday soon turns into something else when he’s drawn into escalating events.

He had taken advantage of a long-standing invitation from Giles and Kate Hoggett to stay with them at Wenningby Farm for the duration of his leave, and he had confided in them concerning his legacy (about £7000 when death duties were paid) and his ambitions about investing it.

“Some day I shall retire,” he said. “Not just yet. The police force is under strength, and I haven’t the conscience to walk out on them at the moment—but some day…”

The intriguing and multi layered plot kept me guessing and there’s plenty going on. It’s woven around the past and present of the local families and includes sheep stealing, manslaughter, fraud, arson and murder. Interesting characters seem authentic and are well formed, the majority easy to like, a few definitely not. I also enjoyed how the lives of the characters, reflecting the time period, and the beautiful locale are both incorporated into the story.

It’s interesting to read the foreword by E.C.R. Lorac, written in 1953, stating that a place such as High Gimmerdale does exist in the fells and the house, Aikengill, is actually her own. This author is one of my favourites in the classics list.


Edith Caroline Rivett (who wrote under the pseudonyms E.C.R. Lorac, Carol CarnacCarol Rivett, and Mary le Bourne.) was a British crime writer. She was born in Hendon, Middlesex (now London). She attended the South Hampstead High School, and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. She was a member of the Detection Club. She was a very prolific writer, having written forty-eight mysteries under her first pen name, and twenty-three under her second. She was an important author of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

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6 thoughts on “Crook o’ Lune (A Lancashire Mystery) by E.C.R. Lorac #Mystery #BritishLiterature #CrimeFiction @BL_Publishing #BookTwitter #TuesdayBookBlog

  1. I always say I love her London wartime settings best, until I read one of her rural settings and then I say I love them best instead! She’s one of very few writers who seems to be just as much at home in both city and country. I agree – definitely one of the highlights of the BL collection! And I thought this one was particularly good.

    Liked by 2 people

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