Read The Skeleton in the Grass by Robert Barnard Online


Robert Barnard has been nominated for a record eight Edgar Awards Similar in feel to Barnard's "Out of the Blackout" also from Felony & Mayhem Who's Likely to Like This? Fans of Alan Furst, John Banville, "The Remains of the Day"...

Title : The Skeleton in the Grass
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781933397818
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 215 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Skeleton in the Grass Reviews

  • Laura
    2019-05-06 02:02

    More social commentary than mystery, this is a short, intriguing portrait of life between the wars. Sarah Causeley comes to Hallam Park to be a governess for the youngest child of an aristocratic family of pacifists. She’s enchanted by their kindness and acceptance as well as by their intellectual conversations. It’s all gracious living, tea on the lawn, and lively discussions of philosophy and literature and politics. The thing is, the real world hovers only vaguely outside the perimeter of Hallam Park. With a consciously well-bred effort the Hallams put up with tedious relatives and neighbors, but they have no interest in the locals and local matters. However, they can’t prevent ugly aspects of the outside world being thrust upon them (or else there’d be no story). One son enlists to fight in the Spanish Civil War – a big blow to the parents – and village lads wage a nasty campaign against the family. Their efforts are targeted mostly at Mr. Hallam, whose service in the Great War was suspect. Plus he gets sick at the sight of blood, and what sort of namby-pamby Englishman does that? Eventually one of the vicious pranks turns fatal...but how? And why?? There's a vivid contrast between the local yokels who are only too easily goaded into terrorizing Hallam Park ("just a bit o' fun") and the benign, clever Hallams. The story could easily become an example of Ignorant Masses versus Gentle Intellectuals, but it doesn’t go that route. As kind as the Hallams are to Sarah, they’re not terribly sympathetic, partly because their pacifist beliefs are particularly naïve and irresponsible considering what the neighboring nations were up to in 1936, and partly because intellectual snobbery is obnoxious even when it’s gracefully presented. For me the real mystery was not so much who done it, but whether Sarah was going to remain charmed by the family for the entire novel. Interesting story and good writing.

  • Mike
    2019-04-26 02:04

    England, 1936. In the wake of growing unrest in Germany and the outbreak of civil war in Spain, the pacifists at Hallam House are disliked by the local villagers. Accusations of cowardice, in the form of brutal pranks, begin to surface around the Hallam estate. Until one prank goes too far.This book is more about country life in 1930s England than it is about a mystery. But much to my surprise, I enjoyed reading about this slice-of-life historical fiction very much. If this book is available at your local library , I suggest you give it a try.

  • Shelley
    2019-05-16 05:09

    Quoted on my book's cover: "Both a splendid mainstream novel and the best mystery of the year" - Time Magazine. I wouldn't class it as really a "best mystery" or as "mystery" for that matter. It certainly wasn't the "best mystery" that I've ever read. It was more of a story about an upper class family and Sarah, a small-town vicar's daughter, moving in to become governess, the tales of what's going on in real life in the 1930's/40's to make it feel more genuine, and the tales of the family with a mystery thrown in.It was a decent enough short story of only 215 pages, and I enjoyed the writing. Sarah is telling the story many years later. There are short paragraphs thrown in, not too often of who she is today. It was done nicely that the reader didn't become confused.The who done it, was a big surprise! I never saw it coming!

  • Marfita
    2019-05-10 06:06

    I'm a little torn on this one. Barnard is a great writer and you can see the Agatha Christie influence on this one: the manor house, the village "types," the sympathetic detective, and, unfortunately, the playing fast-and-loose with time. I enjoyed the book although it creeps into the red zone on the Irony Meter.Sarah becomes governess to a charming child of the engaging local upper-class Hallam family in a classic Tudor mansion, leaving her dysfunctional family behind. It seems too good to be true, and it all starts to break down when the body of a young man (as well as a fake skeleton) is found on the grounds.Barnard tries to confuse us by moving back and forth in time, so that all we know is that Sarah has not only survived, but thrived. However, she is one of the few. The murder, though, takes place during the early months of the Spanish Civil War (ca. 1936) and the denouement during the Blitz, in 1941, barely 5 years later. In fact, the perpetrator confessed in 1939. This is hardly "old history" for a murder case and I doubt any police detective would just say, "Oh, you've suffered enough and it was really only an accident." That's for a court to decide. Agatha Christie would have written something fiendish that tracked down a murder committed even in the distant past! But she also strained credulity - notably in her play "The Mousetrap." The murderer is too old to have been the student of one of the other characters who is too young - unless the teacher retired after teaching one year and the murderer was 18. I've seen two - thirty year olds playing these respective parts. Well, heck! No wonder no one can guess the ending (unless they've seen Stoppard's send-up: "The Real Inspector Hound"). [Side note: I've performed in both of these shows, always as a character 20-30 years older than I was at the time, so I'm not quibbling about the age of actors.]

  • Colleen
    2019-05-20 00:19

    1936 Britain, with its class divisions, envy, and power struggles among the elite. The titled family has a very liberal man who writes for papers calling for the end to war. WWI has left them with a passion for the League of Nations. There is an ex-military man with fascist leanings encouraging the yeoman teenagers in the village to shock and disgust this family with 'pranks'. One day the prank backfires and a teen is killed but no one knows who did it. The mystery is viewed from the eyes of the titled family's governess who is escaping her cold grim parson father and submissive mother. Barnard slips glimpses of the post-WWII future into the book with meet ups between characters to reveal their adult marriages, careers, and travels. Short and skillfully written. Completely believable motive for murder.

  • George
    2019-05-20 02:29

    Mystery set in 1936 with 20 year old rector;s daughter Sarah Causeley starting to work as a governess for the Hallam family's six year old daughter. The Hallams are the aristocratic family for a rural area whose parents are pacifists as Europe and Britain moves towards WW II. The head of the family becomes the targets of various village pranks portraying him as a coward. One of the pranksters is killed resulting in increasing village hostility towards the family.The story is told by Sarah with jumps to the 1950's and '60's with Sarah reflecting back on the events. Those jumps are bit concerting. On the whole, a very good story with a focus upon the disconnect between the Hallams and the villagers.

  • Jazz
    2019-05-17 02:02

    Robert Barnard has always been one of my favorite British mystery writers. He wrote two types: first, the humorous, satirical cozy and second, the type of book this is, a more serious suspenseful novel with a political edge. I generally prefer his lighter books because he does humor so well, but this novel concerning the British gentry between the wars as seen through the eyes of a young governess, was very well done. It's also an examination of conscientious objection and how it affected the members of a particular family. I did not foresee the murderer's identity until the end so Barnard's ability to fool the reader shines through once again just as the writer he admired and analyzed in his tribute to her, "A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie."

  • Gail
    2019-05-20 06:01

    "Skeleton in the Grass" is a mystery in same way that "Atonement" is a mystery. That is, it's a very good novel with some suspenseful elements. Barnard is one of my favorite authors, because when he's at his best, as he is here, his work is terrific. This is a mooving story about convictions, class, and conscience in the time between the World Wars. Most highly recommended to anyone who loves this period or who admired "Atonemenent".

  • Lori Baldi
    2019-04-21 06:05

    This was an ok read. Not too much suspence. The main character, Sarah, feels a lot of tension in the country home where she has been accepted as part of the fancy famiily. What I did like was the way that the future Sarah told a bit of the story as a flashback type story telling. Different perspective.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-30 03:26

    This did remind me of Out of the Blackout, in the best possible way. Like that book, this one has a mystery; it even has a murder. But it's also a slice of a certain time and kind of life, and it's what Barnard does with that that makes the book. He gets a lot across in not much real estate.

  • Dave
    2019-04-20 23:04

    read over a third of the book and the only things that have died in the story are a dog, a chicken and Sarah's mom...only to establish her freedom from her father not by foul play!!! Too many other books to read!!!!

  • Rachel
    2019-05-10 03:17

    Sarah is hired as a governess at Hallam House. A series of pranks is played on the residents of the hous ebecause they are pacifists. Then while pulling off a parnk one of the local boys is killed on the lawn of the house.

  • Caroline Kubale
    2019-05-05 02:27


  • Francine
    2019-05-15 04:16

    Short and engaging story, very well written.

  • Lisa
    2019-04-26 23:21

    Well written mystery

  • Les Wilson
    2019-04-23 22:24

    A good book, but not Silverwood at his best.

  • Beth
    2019-05-17 22:14

    Quick, light fun read. Good ambiance but not very fully developed.

  • John
    2019-05-10 04:06

    Very entertaining pre-WW2 book. A local youth is killed at a country manor about half-way through the book. A nanny at the manner is the main character throughout the book.

  • Catsalive
    2019-05-19 23:10

    2.5 ☦ -