Death of Jezebel by Christianna Brand

Christianna Brand (1907-1988) was not only a notable writer of detective fiction in the classic vein but also an exuberant personality. She certainly liked signing copies of her books – there are plenty of examples around, often with long, chatty inscriptions. This copy of Death of Jezebel is unusual even by her standards, though – because she signed it twice, for two different recipients, one of whom was the legendary crime fiction bibliographer Allen Hubin.

The book was first published in 1948 – this is the American first edition, described as “a Modern Mystery”. Inspector Cockrill, Brand’s regular sleuth, investigates murder committed in the full view of the audience of a charity pageant of knights in armour. As she often did, Brand not only provides a short list of the main characters, but also makes it clear that one of them is the culprit. Her mastery of the “closed circle” detective novel was such that she still managed to keep her readers guessing to the end of the book.