Laurels Are Poison
published in 1942
Whereas my fiction reading mostly centers around science fiction and fantasy, Sandra was always more interested in other genres, especially that of the classical cozy detective story. Her alltime favourite was probably Margery Allingham, but Gladys Mitchell was a strong second. Now while Mitchell was as prolific as any of the big name writers, averaging one novel a year, she never was as popular as an Agatha Christie or Ngaoi Marsh and her books weren’t reprinted as often, which meant they’re much harder to find than those of her more famous counterparts. Which is why Sandra had only a small number of Gladys Mitchell novels, but she read and reread them at least once a year. Of that small number, I think Laurels Are Poison was the one she reread the most, certainly the one she had read the most recent before she died. Which is why I decided to read it as well.
Laurels Are Poison stars Mrs Bradley, Mitchell’s version of the noisy old biddy detective ala Miss Marple (Christie) or Miss Silver (Patricia Wentworth). Mrs Bradley has been hired as head warden of one of the houses of a women’s training college. That’s her cover, but she’s really here to investigate the disappearance of the previous year’s warden, Miss Murchan, who was last seen at the end of term dance and never came back. As soon as she arrives at the college, it’s clear somebody doesn’t want her to start her investigation, as amongst a flood of not very funny but innocent practical jokes some not so innocent traps are set for her…