Review: Death in Devon by Ian Sanso

PUBLISHED: 14:52 26 May 2015 | UPDATED: 14:52 26 May 2015

Death in Devon Book Cover

Death in Devon Book Cover


Annette Shaw reviews Death in Devon by Ian Sanso

Ian SansoIan Sanso

Published by 4th Estate. Hardback £12.99


The biggest regret is that this book was not read whilst reclining in a deck chair, on a terrace, at one of the grand hotels over looking Sidmouth. A jug of Pimms to hand. Death in Devon is the second in The County Guides series whereby The People’s Professor, Swanton Morley, his daughter Miriam and assistant Stephen Sefton, drive off in a Lagonda and find themselves solving a murder. Set in the 1930’s, it’s a spectacular meander based in Rousdon and thoroughly enjoyable. Added to which, it takes a steady nerve as a writer to combine cream teas, surfing and spot of Satanism.

“Swanton Morley, the People’s Professor and potential rival to Miss Marple, is loosely based on a real life character by the name of Arthur Mee,” says Ian Sansom, author of The County Guides series. “Arthur was a fascinating man. Born in 1875 he became a journalist of note in London. He believed knowledge is power and is probably best known for writing The Children’s Encyclopaedia.” Remaining true to this remarkable real life character, Ian’s text is peppered with wisdom and thoughtful phrases such as, “May you never meet a mouse in your pantry with tears in his eyes.”

Each of The County Guides has a particular domain and Ian found that the former school at Rousdon with its own beach fitted the bill perfectly. In the book Morley has been invited to give the Founder’s Day speech at All Souls but when the trio arrive they discover that a boy has died in mysterious circumstances. Was it an accident or was it – murder?

In time, Ian plans to write 43 County Guides and explains why the second book is based in Devon. “As a child, my memories of childhood holidays were of Essex, in part, a landscape best described as bleak with a power station. Then I discovered Devon. A group of us rented a remote cottage and the beauty of the county, the beaches and the closeness of good friends stayed with me.”

Ian writes for the Guardian and the London Review of Books. He is the author of nine books including Paper: An Elegy, Mr Dixon Disappears, The Delegates Choice and The Bad Book Affair, some of the instalments of The Mobile Library series.

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