More good news this week about still another classic author now showing up in e-book editions. One of my regular readers, Joan Kyler, writes to remind me that Amazon.com has made a dozen mysteries by Gladys Mitchell available as Kindle e-books.
Gladys Mitchell is something of an acquired taste for most American readers. Her primary character, Dame Beatrice Bradley, a criminologist and psychiatrist, appeared in a series of more than sixty books, beginning in 1929 and lasting well into the 1980s. Mrs. Bradley is a marvelously eccentric - but shrewd, intelligent and generally rather sympathetic - character. In the U. K., Mitchell was always considered the equal of the other so-called "Crime Queens" of the Golden Age between the World Wars, but her books never really caught on in the U. S., and only about a third of them were ever published here.
British viewers were treated to some television adaptations of the Mrs. Bradley stories, starring Diana Rigg as Mrs. Bradley. I haven't seen them, and I love Diana Rigg, but I have trouble picturing her as Mrs. Bradley, a woman who is renowned for her reptilian looks and appalling fashion sense. She also has a uniquely personal viewpoint on crime and punishment, even going so far as to commit murder herself. And yet, Mitchell's writing is so filled with quirky (and sometimes VERY dark) humor that Mrs. Bradley comes across as truly likeable. In one novel, for example, speaking to a possible suspect, Mitchell writes: "'I warn you, you’d better stay here,' Mrs. Bradley continued, eyeing him with the maternal anxiety of a boa constrictor which watches its young attempting to devour their first donkey." My own sense of humor is quirky enough to really enjoy that kind of thing. As they say, your mileage may vary, depending on your tolerance for English eccentricity.
The Rue Morgue Press has republished some of Mitchell's better titles in trade paperback editions, giving some their first American publication ever. The addition of a dozen titles for the Kindle at a very affordable price may introduce Mrs. Bradley to a new generation of readers.