WATSON’S CHOICE By Gladys Mitchell

Watson’s Choice is Gladys Mitchell’s 28th Mrs. Beatrice Bradley mystery. Mrs. Adela LeStrange Bradley is a polymathic psychoanalyst and author who solved crimes in 65 mystery novels. Her assistant, Laura Menzies, champions social and philosophical concerns. In Watson’s Choice (1955), Mrs. Bradley attends a house party hosted by an eccentric Sherlock Holmes aficionado, Sir Bohun (pronounced “Boon”) Chantrey where attendees appear as characters from Sherlock Holmes stories. The participants include the attractive but cunning governess that Sir Bohun has hired to teach one of his two nephews, a nervous tutor who teaches the other nephew, a group of actors and a pack of greedy relations, along with Mrs. Bradley’s assistant–Laura Menzies–and Laura’s fiancĂ© who is a policeman. And a dog who looks a lot like the Hound of the Baskervilles. The unusual events at the Sherlock Holmes party end with the death of the governess, Linda Campbell.

Mrs. Bradley, as usual, makes short work of solving the murder that baffles the local constabulary and Scotland Yard. There are multiple references to stories in the Sherlock Holmes canon (which may or may not provide clues to the reader). I’ve had Gladys Mitchell’s Watson’s Choice on my shelves for a couple of decades and now I’ve finally read it. Good, but not great. Are you a Gladys Mitchell fan? GRADE: B-
Speedy Death, (London: Gollancz, 1929)
The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop, (London: Gollancz, 1929)
The Longer Bodies, (London: Gollancz, 1930)
The Saltmarsh Murders, (London: Gollancz, 1932)
Death at the Opera, (London: Grayson, 1934);
vt. Death in the Wet (Philadelphia: Macrae Smith Company, 1934)
The Devil at Saxon Wall, (London: Grayson, 1935)
Dead Men’s Morris, (London: Michael Joseph, 1936)
Come Away Death, (London: Michael Joseph, 1937)
St Peter’s Finger, (London: Michael Joseph, 1938)
Printer’s Error, (London: Michael Joseph, 1939)
Brazen Tongue, (London: Michael Joseph, 1940)
Hangman’s Curfew, (London: Michael Joseph, 1941)
When Last I Died, (London: Michael Joseph, 1941)
Laurels Are Poison, (London: Michael Joseph, 1942)
The Worsted Viper, (London: Michael Joseph, 1943)
Sunset Over Soho, (London: Michael Joseph, 1943)
My Father Sleeps, (London: Michael Joseph, 1944)
The Rising of the Moon, (London: Michael Joseph, 1945)
Here Comes a Chopper, (London: Michael Joseph, 1946)
Death and the Maiden, (London: Michael Joseph, 1947)
The Dancing Druids, (London: Michael Joseph, 1948)
Tom Brown’s Body, (London: Michael Joseph, 1949)
Groaning Spinney, (London: Michael Joseph, 1950)
The Devil’s Elbow, (London: Michael Joseph, 1951)
The Echoing Strangers, (London: Michael Joseph, 1952)
Merlin’s Furlong, (London: Michael Joseph, 1953)
Faintley Speaking, (London: Michael Joseph, 1954)
Watson’s Choice, (London: Michael Joseph, 1955)
Twelve Horses and the Hangman’s Noose, (London: Michael Joseph, 1956)
The Twenty-third Man, (London: Michael Joseph, 1957)
Spotted Hemlock, (London: Michael Joseph, 1958)
The Man Who Grew Tomatoes, (London: Michael Joseph, 1959)
Say It With Flowers, (London: Michael Joseph, 1960)
The Nodding Canaries, (London: Michael Joseph, 1961)
My Bones Will Keep, (London: Michael Joseph, 1962)
Adders on the Heath, (London: Michael Joseph, 1963)
Death of a Delft Blue, (London: Michael Joseph, 1964)
Pageant of Murder, (London: Michael Joseph, 1965)
The Croaking Raven, (London: Michael Joseph, 1966)
Skeleton Island, (London: Michael Joseph, 1967)
Three Quick and Five Dead, (London: Michael Joseph, 1968)
Dance to Your Daddy, (London: Michael Joseph, 1969)
Gory Dew, (London: Michael Joseph, 1970)
Lament for Leto, (London: Michael Joseph, 1971)
A Hearse on May-Day, (London: Michael Joseph, 1972)
The Murder of Busy Lizzie, (London: Michael Joseph, 1973)
A Javelin for Jonah, (London: Michael Joseph, 1974)
Winking at the Brim, (London: Michael Joseph, 1974)
Convent on Styx, (London: Michael Joseph, 1975)
Late, Late in the Evening, (London: Michael Joseph, 1976)
Noonday and Night, (London: Michael Joseph, 1977)
Fault in the Structure, (London: Michael Joseph, 1977)
Wraiths and Changelings, (London: Michael Joseph, 1978)
Mingled with Venom, (London: Michael Joseph, 1978)
Nest of Vipers, (London: Michael Joseph, 1979)
The Mudflats of the Dead, (London: Michael Joseph, 1979)
Uncoffin’d Clay, (London: Michael Joseph, 1980)
The Whispering Knights, (London: Michael Joseph, 1980)
The Death-Cap Dancers, (London: Michael Joseph, 1981)
Lovers, Make Moan, (London: Michael Joseph, 1981)
Here Lies Gloria Mundy, (London: Michael Joseph, 1982)
The Death of a Burrowing Mole, (London: Michael Joseph, 1982)
The Greenstone Griffins, (London: Michael Joseph, 1983)
Cold, Lone and Still, (London: Michael Joseph, 1983)
No Winding-Sheet, (London: Michael Joseph, 1984)
The Crozier Pharaohs, (London: Michael Joseph, 1984)
Sleuth’s Alchemy, Cases of Mrs. Bradley and Others (Crippen & Landru, 2005)

16 thoughts on “WATSON’S CHOICE By Gladys Mitchell

  1. Jeff Meyerson

    I was a Gladys Mitchell fan only to the extent that when I was buying old mysteries in England for resale, she was one of the reliable authors I looked out for.

    WATSON’S CHOICE is the only one of her novels I’ve ever read (as you said, good but not great). though the Crippen & Landru collection of her short stories is worth a look.

  2. Jerry House

    I’m sadly lacking in this department, having read nothing by her — something I really should correct PDQ. Mitchell was far more popular in England and, as I recall, not that many of her books were published in the U.S.

    1. george Post author

      Jerry, I have about a dozen Gladys Mitchell mysteries. As you point out, Mitchell was more popular in England than the U.S. I found several of Gladys Mitchell’s mysteries in Canada.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    In England, I always searched for the titles that hadn’t been published in the U.S., as those fetched the higher prices, even when the condition was bad. My friend Barry Pike is a big Mitchell fan, and he has a beautiful collection of her first editions in terrific condition for the most part. Mitchell also wrote under the names of Malcolm Torrie, a series about architect Timothy Herring.

    I’ve never read those either.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I’ve never seen a “Malcolm Torrie” book, but I’ll be more alert for them when I go to Canada where a lot of British books show up.

  4. maggie Mason

    That was the first Gladys Mitchell book I ever read. I don’t remember anything about it. I vaguely remember a TV series, that I didn’t keep up with (Diana Rigg as Mrs B.?) I had a pretty good collection of Gladys Mitchell books, and saved separately the ones with the Edw. Gorey covers. I tried reading one before the big purge, and wasn’t that impressed. I think I gave the books to Gordy Magnuson, at least some of them. I believe his son is carrying on Magna Mysteries from Minn.

  5. Rick Robinson

    A post on a Gladys Mitchell book, which is fine, but the Sherlock Holmes connection, for your Sherlock Holmes Week, is awfully faint. I read this at the time I was reading several of her books, all of which I though were just so-so. Hopefully tomorrow you’ll wrap up tomorrow with an actual Holmes story or novel!

  6. Beth Fedyn

    Back in the day I made the mistake of taking a Gladys Mitchell book on vacation.
    The book wasn’t that long but I was 2/3 of the way thru before someone died.
    Never again.

    1. george Post author

      Bob, I’ll be donating another couple thousand books to SUNY at Buffalo Special Collections this Summer. I’m sure there’s a local University near you who would welcome those old mysteries.

  7. Denny Lien

    I’m a Mitchell fan, but never cared much for this one (for one thing, the Sherlockian interest never amounts to much). Quality of her books varies widely. I’d suggest trying THE RISING OF THE MOON or WHEN FIRST I DIED or THE SALTMARSH MYSTERY or DEATH AT THE OPERA (even the murderer’s motive in that one seems pretty weak/silly to me).

    1. george Post author

      Denny, thanks for the recommendations. I have a copy of THE SALTMARSH MYSTERY around here somewhere. And I’ll look for THE RISING OF THE MOON, WHEN FIRST I DIED, and DEATH AT THE OPERA.


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