The village of South Mardian likes the old ways. The very old ways. This may be 1957, but South M. still features a blacksmith, a village idiot, and an elaborate fertility ritual performed at the winter solstice. There’s squabbling, of course, and things come to a head (nyuck, nyuck, nyuck) when one of the ritual’s main players is found beheaded, everything north of his neck having been neatly lopped off by a ritual sword. Inspector Alleyn does have to contain a certain incredulous amusement at South M.’s fetishistic embrace of the 18th century—he does not, for example, have what one might call a real passion for morris dancing—but he contains the giggles long enough to name the baddie and return all to the warm embrace of pre-Industrial Britain. Death of a Fool has also been previously published under the title Off with His Head.
"The Mardian Morris Sword Dance ... is as hauntingly evocative as anything you've ever read in the annals of folklore; and it furnishes a superb background for murder."—New York Times
Who's likely to like this: Fans of Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and the golden age of detective fiction