June Wright

Duck Season Death

""...will appeal to those who enjoy a good old-fashioned murder mystery. ""


Owner of a literary magazine and literary critic, Athol Sefton takes his nephew, Charles (himself a critic) to the Duck and Dog hunting inn at Dunbavin for the annual duck shoot. Athol, being one to make his own rules is out the day before the season starts, but becomes the target and is quickly killed by a gunshot to the chest. All the guests at the remote inn which is full due to the duck season appear to have no relation to the critic who was world-renowned for his scathing reviews. Was it one of the guests staying at the inn under the pretence of shooting ducks, or were they staying for a more sinister reason? To begin with, the authorities take the view it was all a dreadful accident, but Charles is determined to get to the truth of it all – even if nobody else believes him.

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June Wright was an Australian crime writer who published 'Murder in the Telephone Exchange' in 1948.'Duck Season Death' was first written during the 1950's and rejected by Wright's publisher. Maybe they felt the violent death of a book critic was a bit too close for comfort! It certainly appears that Wright was not fond of critics and wonder how she would have felt with today's technology when everyone can have their say! While reading this I did wonder if Wright had received a lacklustre review about one of her previous books. We will never know. So, 'Duck Season Death' languished in Wright's bottom drawer for sixty-odd years, until now. So, was it worth the wait? Wright is very good at dialogue however, it did take me a while to get myself in to her rhythm of writing. Her characters are very well-drawn and by the end of the book they are well-rounded. My only criticism (if I dare say that here) is Charles' 'gung-ho' behaviour at the inn did not quite ring true and he did go about his enquiry in what seemed to be a large pair of hob-nailed boots. There is no subtlety here however, Wright does have a very smart little puzzle leading to the unveiling of Athol's murderer. Rather than a re-print of a novel that simply fell out of fashion, it is intriguing to read one that was written over half a century ago and never been in print. I feel it was a bit harsh of Wright's publishers never to have accepted this novel in another form rather than dismiss it entirely out of hand, but I also feel that here Wright had a personal axe to grind. In all this is a fairly engaging mystery that will appeal to those who enjoy a good old-fashioned murder mystery.

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