Death in the Quadrangle (cover) Eilís Dillon
Death in the Quadrangle

Professor Daly, who had had some success as an amateur detective, accepts with pleasure the invitation from his old college in Dublin to come out of retirement and give a series of lectures. At King's University he finds the handsome and authoritative President a badly frightened man, convinced someone is planning to kill him. Amid the backbiting and infighting of the faculty members over after-dinner coffee, Daly finds his former colleagues and their wives more set than ever in their eccentricities, and united only in their in virulent hatred of their President.
When there is murder, it is the characters - the very human people in the quadrangle - who provide the mysteries, and their solutions, for Professor Daly and Inspector Mike Kenny.

WHAT THE REVIEWERS SAID:

"Her picture of academic life is the best we have read since Dorothy Sayers gave us 'Gaudy Night'." (Social and Personal)

"Miss Dillon's eye is beautifully sharp, her skill impeccable, and her detachment absolute." (Belfast Newsletter)

"All dons and ex-dons will understand and enjoy." (Dr Kathleen Freeman, The Western Mail)

"They'll hate this in Dublin, but this is a fine example of the English detective novel." (Montreal Star)

"The King's common-room is furnished with as colourful a bunch of oddities as one could find anywhere... Top marks for entertainment value." (Irish Times)

"The mutual relations of the professors crackle with well-expressed malice" (Times Literary Supplement)


"Death in the Quadrangle" also received some political reviews, which we have included as part of the Education and Research section of this site.

More reviews after this
extract from the opening pages ....

Walking up the avenue to the main building, Professor Daly found that he might almost have been seeing it all for the first time. It was late October and the Michaelmas Term had begun a fortnight ago. The trees were in their autumn beauty, and their solitary stillness smote his heart. The old red buildings glowed peacefully in the afternoon sun. He went into the main hall and stood hesitating, feeling an almost intolerable loneliness. This was an alien and a frightening sensation for him. He was rescued from it by a middle-aged porter who darted out of a little office at the back of the hall and scurried towards him.
"Good evening, Professor! Well, it's like old times to see you walking in through that door again. And how are you at all? And how are they all below in Galway?"
He was shaking Daly's hand and pawing his shoulder while he talked, as so many people feel entitled to do to the old. Though he had always disliked this man for his cunning, insinuating ways, Daly was grateful to him now for the warmth of his welcome. He disengaged himself deftly and said:
"Good evening, Jennings. It's good to be back."
He had no intention of replying to the slightly derisive question about the health of the people of Galway. He went on quickly:
"There is room for me in College, I believe?"
"In your old rooms, sir," said Jennings eagerly. "They're vacant at the moment, and the President said we were to put you in there."
He seized Daly's suitcase and led the way up the wide, polished staircase, chattering irritatingly all the while.
"You'll see great changes here, sir, since your time. Great changes. The President is a great man. Oh, a great man!"
"A very able man," said Daly gently, pained at the smallness of Jennings's supply of adjectives.
" 'Twould take yourself to think of the word, sir," said Jennings, looking at him with delight. "An able man, indeed."
Patronizing little So-and-so, thought Daly, glancing sideways at Jennings. A moment later he reproached himself for his harshness. It was no wonder that Jennings had developed a patronizing manner, after a quarter-century of playing nursemaid to professors. He hurried to make a friendly remark:
"I don't know the President very well. I was acquainted with him years ago, before he was appointed Professor of Mineralogy, but he had only been in College a year when I retired."
"That's right, sir," said Jennings. " 'Twas a pity he couldn't carry on with the mineralogy after he became President. But sure he couldn't be everywhere."
"Professor Gleeson succeeded him, I think?" said Daly.
"That's right, sir. A quiet sort of a man. The students say he's not a patch on Professor Bradley."
"Students always say that," said Daly tolerantly. "I remember Professor Gleeson as a very clever man indeed. Students like to be talking about the good old times. The greatest numskull is labelled a genius once he has retired."
"That's right, sir, of course," said Jennings coolly. "Sure they say the same about Professor Badger, sir, that he's only trotting after yourself."

More reviews ....

"Admirable characterisation produces here an entertaining comedy of manners." (The Lady)

"An excellent detective story with a university background, and chock-full of Irish wit and humour." (Yorkshire Observer)

"Miss Dillon writes with a charmingly light touch." (Irish Independent)

"Miss Dillon has produced a remarkable and entertaining gallery of portraits." (East London Advertiser)

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