Death on the Cherwell, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


For Miss Cordell, principal of Persephone College, there are two great evils to be feared: unladylike behaviour among her students, and bad publicity for the college.

So her prim and cosy world is turned upside down when a secret society of undergraduates meets by the river on a gloomy January afternoon, only to find the drowned body of the college bursar floating in her canoe.

The police assume that a student prank got out of hand, but the resourceful Persephone girls suspect foul play, and take the investigation into their own hands.

Soon they uncover the tangled secrets that led to the bursar's death - and the clues that point to a fellow student. This classic mystery novel, with its evocative setting in an Oxford women's college, is now republished for the first time since the 1930s.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The British Library Publishing Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9780712357265



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A well-written murder mystery. It doesn't sabotage itself through determination to preserve a twist ending, but lets the truth bubble slowly to the surface. Hay makes good use of multiple viewpoint characters, allowing the reader to know more than any one character does, and giving different fragments of insight into the characters. I must say, I have little patience nowadays for characters who deliberately keep evidence from the police, especially when it's obviously making things more suspicious rather than less. But it's an old book. On the plus side, I liked the competent, pleasant police officers who dealt professionally with an array of unhelpful Oxfordians. For me personally, the Oxford trappings aren't much of a plus and are occasionally tiresome (self-indulgently Oxfordish undergraduates bore me). It also has unfortunately outdated depiction of a Yugoslavian character, whose stereotype is upheld by both the other characters, and more importantly by the text. Neither problem is a sticking-point, but they do mean I only rate this as a solid rather than a good book.

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