Perry is a London police detective who has, to his immense relief, been disowned by his upper-class family. The Trethowans might best be described as cut-rate Sitwells or Mitfords: a poet, a painter (long deceased, and the only one with any real talent), a composer, a set-designer, and a Nazi sympathizer -- plus their various offspring, all living in a monstrosity of a country house. When Perry's father (the composer) is found dead on a torture device of his own design, our detective's immediate reaction is: "That is just how one of my family would die, and just how one of my family would murder... I'll be the laughing-stock of the CID for the rest of my life." However, the Scotland Yard brass decide that only a Trethowan can comprehend the mind of another Trethowan -- and so, despite his pleas, Perry is sent back to the bosom of his family to find the killer among them.
The plot is cut on classic lines, the characters also; but Barnard's true forte is the feel for prose that is still the chief glory of the British educated classes. Potential readers should be warned that, although there is very little violence or sex in this book, it's still not your typical warm fuzzy aristo-Anglophile romp either.
Some family secrets won't stay buried--addled aunts, crackpot cousins, sinister siblings, or murder most foul. Great British mystery!
The pleasure in reading Robert Barnard is not so much the mystery plot, but rather the sharply observed often cyncial view of the British public and its social classes viewed with a deilghtfully jaundiced eye.
A "Scene of the Crime" Mystery
"A whodunit in the classic tradition"