One of the most criminally forgotten mystery writers ever is Christianna Brand. Brand was a supreme talent, who perfectly fused complex puzzle-oriented mystery with strong characterization. With her novels, it isn’t simply about this evening’s eccentric detective, rolling the dice to figure out the murderer, or anything of the sort. Brand could create likeable, believable characters the reader comes to know closely, feeling sympathy for both the innocent and the guilty, and as a result, her books often have depressing endings.
Take Death of Jezebel, for instance, one of Brand’s most highly-praised works (and also a very hard one to find!). The story opens in 1940 as a nice young man named Johnny Wise discovers his girlfriend Perpetua Kirk with another man, Earl Anderson—this is cruelly unveiled to him by a rather sadistic woman, Isabel Drew. Stricken with grief, Johnny commits suicide.