The third book in the Richard Pryor series starts with an interesting discovery – a body in a bog, hands tied, head gone. Dr. Pryor is called to check it out, and he brings the lovely Priscilla Chambers, who is filling in for Angela Bray while Angela tends to some family business. Turns out Priscilla is the perfect person for this because she’s not just a forensic biologist, she’s also a trained archaeologist. The body is excavated, and it’s clear he’s not a prehistoric bog man, but a much more recent kill. The cops take this one from there, and actually manage to track down who the guy is and what happened to him – mostly through a series of pretty incredible coincidences.
The other case they’re working on is an appeal – a woman has been (wrongfully?) convicted of killing her live-in abusive boyfriend. Angela comes back, and her biology stuff is instrumental in solving that one. There’s also a bit more ambiguous amorous thoughts – but no one acts on a thing. It’s almost too chaste, even for the 50s.
Dr. Pryor is also working on his vineyard – he’s got lots of land and has decided to become a winemaker. He visits with the only other winemaker in Wales, a French guy with some complicated family history that Richard and Angela try to help with.
These books aren’t going to win any awards, and they’re not going to keep anyone up at night, but they’re reasonable enough for an evening’s worth of reading.
Richard Pryor is back in the second book in this series, which starts a couple of months after the first book ended. The freelance private forensic team is doing well, with Dr. Pryor, Angela Bray the biologist, lab technician Sian, and the lovely young widow housekeeper Moira are adjusting to life with each other. The ladies have crushes on Richard, and he in turn feels things for each of them, but everything is all chummy for now.
Their newest case involves what at first looks like a suicide, but which Richard figures out is most likely a murder. The murder is at a farm in the middle of nowhere, so there’s a pretty limited suspect pool in this one. It was fairly easy to figure out, but still a decent story. The B story is a veterinarian who may have killed his terminally ill wife. The whole gang pitches in on that one, and the outcome hinges on some fairly obscure chemistry that turned out to be fairly boring.
It’s interesting how much has changed, how far we’ve come scientifically and technologically since the 1950s – which is not all that long ago. The team is having a phone installed with more than one line, they listen to the radio for entertainment, they have to find a phone to call someone, they even do research in books. No reaching into the pocket and finding everything they need right there on the smart phone.
The writing in these stories is fine, the “banter” isn’t terribly banter-y, but it’s a nice old fashioned mystery story, which is a fine thing on occasion.
The author of this book (and the others in the series) is a Welsh forensic pathologist, like his main character, Richard Pryor. Right now there are three books, I’ve read them all, and I giggled every time I thought of the American version doing and saying what the book version did. I’m easily amused.
So, it’s the early 1950s in England and Wales. Dr. Pryor was a medic and pathologist in the war, and worked in the Far East as a pathologist and professor. He returns to Wales after inheriting some property, and goes into the freelance pathology business with a woman biologist he met at a conference. They move into the house and set up shop with Sian, a local girl who does chemical testing.
The interesting thing about these books is that while (at least so far) the pathology folks help solve the crimes, the book also follows the cops and the investigation, and the cops do all the sleuthing for the most part. No one is ever in peril, which made for a nice change in books like this. They’re typical cozy mysteries, in Post-War Great Britain. Of course there are baddies, and murders, and good detailed explanations of the whole pathology thing. And a terrible attempt at banter – but that’s no surprise either, considering the age of the author.
In this one, the group helps determine whether a woman drowned by accident or was murdered. The story isn’t a barn-burner, but it was interesting enough to keep me going, and to bring me to the next two books. If you like basic cozies, you could do worse than this series.