The eponymous nosy parker in Death of a Busybody is Miss Ethel Tither. She has made herself deeply unpopular in the quintessentially English village of Hilary Magna, since she goes out of her way to snoop on people, and interfere with their lives. On being introduced to her, the seasoned reader of detective stories will spot a murder victim in the making.
Sure enough, by the end of chapter one, this unpleasant lady has met an extremely unpleasant fate. She is found floating in a cesspool, having been bludgeoned prior to drowning in the drainage water.This is, in every way, a murky business; realising that they are out of their depth, the local police quickly call in the Yard. Inspector Thomas Littlejohn, George Bellairs’ series detective, arrives on the train, and in casting around for suspects, he finds that he is spoiled for choice.
The amiable vicar supplies him with a map showing the scene of the crime; maps were a popular feature of traditional whodunnits for many years, and Bellairs occasionally included them in his books, as he does here.