‘A Dreadful Murder’ is a short story based on a real 100 year old unsolved murder. Caroline Luard was murdered in 1908 and though many in the community suspected her husband – Major General Charles Luard, the evidence was against him being the murderer and the crime was never solved.
The Luards were very wealthy and in Kent where they lived there were many more lower-middle class and poor families than rich ones. In those days of the poor having to rely on charity to get by, there was a tremendous amount of class envy. Everyone knew exactly where they stood in the class pecking order, but this did not necessarily make it easier to accept. Caroline Luard was involved in charity work, but for many of the poor, this tended to make them more resentful than thankful.
Given that the Major General was the last to see Caroline alive as well as the one to discover the body, many in the community were only too happy to point the finger. The longer that the case went on without his arrest, the more bitter and vindictive many in the community became.
This is the first of Minette Walters’ short stories that I’ve read. I have found her novels very absorbing and in comparison this story seemed a bit dry and boring. I felt very little of the atmosphere of the early 1900s and even found myself surprised at times when something specific to the time popped into the story. The atmosphere of class envy and the hopelessness of the poor did come through a bit more clearly.
While the murder case was interesting, I didn’t feel that this story gave much more than an interesting representation of the facts that have been known since the murder. I did, however, enjoy the inclusion of the then embryonic science of ballistics.
Book Published 2013