Cover image for The corpse at the Haworth Tandoori
The corpse at the Haworth Tandoori
Barnard, Robert.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Scribner, 1999.

Physical Description:
283 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When the body of an almost-naked young man is found in a car parked behind one of Haworth's many eating establishments, the town, best known to tourists as the site of the Haworth Parsonage of Bronte fame, is about to become recognized for something much more sinister.

After solving the puzzle of the corpse's identity, Charlie Peace and his superior, Detective Superintendent Mike Oddie, must get to the bottom of the strange goings-on at the Ashworth artists' colony, where the dead boy had acted as odd-job handyman. The little knot of people in the community seems to have been brought together less by their ability as artists than by a common worship of the distinguished painter Ranulph Byatt, who feeds on their adulation. As the search for the killer continues, Peace and Oddie uncover a series of dark secrets on the harsh Haworth landscape. Up to the last surprising pages of this superb psychological thriller, Barnard displays every devious trick in his arsenal. As People has said, "Just when you think you've figured out what Barnard is up to, he'll outfox you again".

Author Notes

Robert Barnard 1936-2013

Robert Barnard was born in Essex, England on November 23, 1936. He read English at Balliol College, Oxford. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, he was a professor. His first novel, Death of an Old Goat, was published in 1974. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 40 books including A Cry from the Dark, The Bones in the Attic, Posthumous Papers, Death in a Cold Climate, Sheer Torture, Political Suicide, The Missing Brontë, The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori, and A Charitable Body. He also wrote an illustrated biography of Emily Brontë and A Brontë Encyclopedia, compiled with Louise Barnard. He received numerous awards including the Nero Wolfe, Anthony, Agatha, Edgar and Macavity Awards. In 2003, he won the CWA Diamond Dagger Award for a lifetime of achievement. He died on September 19, 2013 at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Barnard is up to his wonderful yarn spinning again in another delightfully original whodunit. The body of a young man has been found in the trunk of a car parked at the Haworth Tandoori restaurant in the town of Haworth in Yorkshire. Detective Constable Charlie Peace's investigation takes him to the neighboring community of Ashworth. It seems to be rather obvious after he follows a few leads that the body is that of Declan O'Hearn, who hired on as a handyman at the home of famous painter Ranulph Byatt, who surrounds himself with a coterie of admirers. As Detective Peace learns, Declan had soon become more than just a handyman; he became the inspiration behind a revival of the artistic energy of the old, irascible painter. But, strangely, Declan hadn't stuck around for long. And isn't it his body that was found in that trunk? But when Detective Peace has Declan's mother come from Ireland to identify it, it turns out to be not his body but his brother's. The plot deliciously thickens. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Having survived the malice of A Little Local Murder (1988), British detectives Charlie Peace and Mike Oddie must now investigate the murder of a young man whose body is found in a car parked outside an Indian eatery in the small town of Haworth. Their roundabout search eventually leads to an unusual group of eccentrics living in a community devoted to the worship of the distinguished painter Ranulph Byatt. As Barnard develops these quirky characters‘including an ex-convict, his sister and Byatt's aging yet protective wife‘and as the detectives tread deeper into their midst, it becomes clear that any one of them can be the murderer, regardless of their seeming innocence (or ignorance). Peace and Oddie are faced with not only determining the identity of the corpse and the killer, but also with uncovering the how and why of the crime. Though eight-time Edgar nominee Barnard's new mystery isn't particularly suspenseful, its devious, seamless plot will keep readers guessing, and Oddie and Peace fans will enjoy being back in their company. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Once police identify the body found outside a restaurant, their search for a killer leads to a local artists' colony. Another excellent psychological thriller from a skillful writer (No Place of Safety, LJ 6/1/98). (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter Two The Road to Ashworth As he passed the Old White Lion, with the King's Arms on his right and the Black Bull straight ahead, Charlie was very conscious that he could do with a pint. No such luck. He turned aside reluctantly from his plethora of choices. The window of the post office did indeed, down in one corner, have a board on which small advertisements and notices were pinned. He bent down to scan them. There were advertisements for bed-and-breakfast establishments ("Totally smoke-free zone"), for missing pets ("brindled and white, with damaged left ear and bleary right eye"), and, yes, jobs. Only one, though, and it looked as if it had been left up by mistake: one of the cafés, Tabby's Kitchen, was advertising for waitresses during the holiday period. Nothing more. Obviously late September was not the time when Haworth was recruiting casual staff. Charlie straightened himself, changed focus, and gazed through the window. He had popped in with his picture while he was doing the top of the village, but neither of the women behind the counter had recognized it. There was a woman there now, but a new one: she was a large young woman, firm of manner, and, if Charlie judged aright, capable. He decided it was worth trying again. The afternoon was passing its peak, and there were only one or two loiterers around, gossiping after buying the odd stamp or collecting their pensions. He flashed his ID, and the little post office miraculously emptied itself. When he showed the woman his picture she seemed, like most of the Haworth people he had shown it to, to be unimpressed. "It's not very good, is it?" she said. Charlie chanced his arm. "As a picture or as a likeness?" "Both," said the woman after a brief pause, considering and looking at it. "Yes, I think I have seen him, maybe talked to him. Not recently. It will have been over the summer....Oh, dear, I can't say more than that." "It's more than I've got from most. Could it have been in connection with one of your job ads?" "Could have been. Or he could have been looking for a bed-and-breakfast place. Or just asking about trains and buses out. People come in here if the tourist office is crowded." "You've only got one job advertisement up now, and it seems to be out of date. You would have had more up there in the summer, wouldn't you?" "Oh, yes -- waitresses in the cafés, bar staff and kitchen staff at the pubs and hotels, morning work at the B and B's. If he'd got any of those we'd have seen him around here. There was a general handyman job up there for a while, over at Ashworth. I wonder if it was that -- " "Ashworth? You don't mean Oakworth?" "No, no. It's a little bunch of cottages off from Stanbury. Almost a community, you might say. Arty. One of them's said to be a real artist, well known. Name's on the tip of my tongue, but...I'm not into modern art." "And they wanted a general handyman?" "That's right. The ad was in the window for a while. He's very old, this artist chap, and they may have wanted help with him as well as help around the house and gardens. Wouldn't have suited everyone....You know, I certainly remember some one coming in and asking the way to Ashworth. I don't say it was him -- we get hundreds in here all through the summer rush period -- but someone did. And it will have been a man, because they specified that." "Is that legal?" She grinned cheekily. "We don't look too closely. And we're not lawyers." "And what would you have told him, when he asked you for directions, I mean?" "Go through Stanbury, almost to the end, and you'll find there's a path off to your right with a fingerpost that just says 'Public Footpath.' If you take that, veer a bit to your right; you can't miss Ashworth." "He'll have been walking, I suppose." "I expect so. My memory is that he had a backpack. Or he could have waited for a bus, but I don't remember him, or whoever it was, asking about times. There's not a lot of visitors go to Stanbury. In fact ninety percent of them never go off Main Street and Church Lane, where the parsonage is. If he went for the job, I expect he walked." Charlie thanked her and took his leave. Outside the sun still had some warmth in it. It was an hour before the shops would close and Haworth would start to regain some semblance of a typical Yorkshire village. Charlie, on the spur of the moment, made a very untypical policeman's decision: the boy -- if it was he -- had walked, so he, Charlie Peace, would walk, to Stanbury. He turned right, in the direction of Hebden Bridge and Lancashire, and began walking, passing with regret one last pub, the Old Sun, and then leaving Haworth by the road that led him down into the valley. It was a beautiful descent, but uneasy, due to the occasional nature of the pavement. Cars with farmers in them, or retired people, or tourists sped past him in both directions, sometimes driving erratically. If he had known the footpaths in the area he would have chosen one of those. Low down in the valley there was a row of attractive cottages, off from the road, with flower gardens in front that bordered on the showy. From the corner of his eye he had spotted a man deadheading near his gate. Charlie slackened his pace, then stopped, took out his handkerchief, and wiped his forehead. He raised his hand to the gardener. "Need to get my breath before I do the upward stretch," he called. "Oh, aye?" said the man, pausing willingly. He was small, wiry, and had the look of an animated garden gnome. "Or 'appen you'd like to ask a few questions about a picture of a boy?" Charlie grinned. "I stand out." "You do. If you'd been Japanese I wouldn't ha' thought twice." "Someone from Main Street has been talking." "O' course they 'ave. We used to have a shop in Main Street, the missus and I, 'fore we retired. People still there, shopkeepers, get on the blower when it's quiet and tell us what's going on. Now, where's your picture, young man? Because we're old doesn't mean we don't notice things." Charlie, seemingly for the hundredth time, dug in his pocket and handed it over. The little man out of early Walt Disney stood and considered it for a few seconds. "Margaret! Come out here, girl!" A buxom woman twice his size came out, having probably been watching from the kitchen window. "Here's that black copper Arthur rang us about. Wants to know if we've seen this young chap. An' we 'ave, 'aven't us?" She too considered the picture, frowning. "Aye, we 'ave. I don't recall where, exactly -- " "The Grange, girl, the Grange." "Oh, aye, 'appen." "The Grange? Where's that?" Charlie asked. "Pub in Stanbury. You'll see it -- can't miss it. Stanbury's only got one street." "And you saw him there when?" "Over t'summer sometime. Mebbe July, mebbe August -- don't rightly remember." Charlie was curious. "Why do you remember seeing him then? You get thousands of tourists around here in summer." "Not so many in Stanbury, and not of an evening. But he wasn't just a tourist. I remember seeing him because he was wi' the Ashworth lot." "Ah! Who exactly are you talking about?" "Oh, Mrs. Birdsell, the Mates boy, Arnold Mellors...don't remember exactly because they're often in the Grange, different ones of them." "And you remembered him because he was with them?" Charlie persisted. "Aye," said the man, a glint in his sharp little eyes. "I thought, Poor, bloody lad, getting involved wi' that crowd. Because he were a nice-enough-looking chap." "And the Ashworth crowd?" "Don't like 'em. Don't trust 'em. Outsiders, every one of them. Wouldn't give them the price of a loaf of bread and expect them to come back wi' one." "Creepy too," volunteered his wife. "That's right -- creepy. Unnatural, like." "I see." Charlie stored this information away, adding the mental proviso that he mustn't be biased before he even met the Ashworth people. The problem could just be that they were artistic, and therefore different. "And was that the only time that you saw him?" "'Appen I saw him driving past in their old car. Or mebbe waiting for a bus. That were it, at a bus stop. But in the pub were the only time I saw him close to, for any length o' time." "Did you get the impression that he was working at Ashworth?" The man thought. "Aye, I did. It were like he were part o' the group, or getting to be that way, poor bloody lad." It was said in the same tone as earlier, not as if he knew that the boy was dead. Still, it must be suspected soon, Charlie realized, that his investigation signaled something more important than a mere missing young person. Charlie gave them his thanks, said he hoped he wouldn't have to trouble them again (while realizing that they very much hoped he would), and then began his walk up the hill toward Stanbury. Stanbury, he already knew from driving through it, was a street and not much more. It was what Haworth was in people's imagination but had not in fact been for centuries -- a small Yorkshire village. It was sleepy, inward-looking, and liked basking in the twilight sun. The doorway of the Old Co-op stood open, and a woman who had the air of a sprightly bird sighting a particularly attractive worm watched his approach. "Just past the little church and off to your right, where it says 'Public Footpath,'" she informed him. She felt no need to explain how she knew where he was going, so he accepted it as a matter of course as well, merely raising his hand in acknowledgment and proceeding on. A little community where everyone knows everyone else, where every tiny item of news is transmitted by a constantly humming bush telegraph, and yet this boy could disappear and cause not a ripple of comment or query. It was eerie. And yet when he thought about it, it was not so remarkable. The people of Ashworth, the boy's employers, presumably, had only to say "He's taken off" for that to be an end of it. Young people did take off these days. They had casual not regular jobs; they were at the expendable end of the labor market. Say that, for reasons unknown, this boy had come to seem expendable on a permanent basis in somebody's eye. The story could be put around that he'd just moved on, slung his hook, sought pastures new -- whatever phrase was most convincing to the listener -- and people would have accepted the story. Past the church and then, here it was, a footpath, signposted, leading down into the valley. It was only a footpath but tire marks showed that it could be used in a pinch by vehicles, and had been fairly recently. Charlie turned in off the road, feeling as he left the shelter of houses that exposed sensation that townies feel in the open countryside: me in a landscape, not me in a peoplescape. He passed a lone farm, with chained, barking dogs. Farm dog, he thought, a different, more unsettling creature altogether than the fireside pet. Down, down he went, with the sound of cars becoming more and more distant, until he started to turn to his right and saw in the middle distance a collection of houses. This surely was the object of his search. As the bend in the path began to get more pronounced he got a better view. A jumble of houses, like children's model houses scattered rather than arranged over the floor. One house decidedly bigger than the others, probably originally the farm. Built on to this was one of the small cottages. Around it, in no particular order, several other cottages -- Charlie thought he could discern five front doors, three in one terrace, two in another. There were little gardens, clotheslines, a car left in a field behind the largest house, near what had once been stables. The field needed mowing, and one or two of the gardens were unkempt, though others were almost indecently showy and one had a garden gnome and another had a ring enclosing a large chunk of coconut at which birds were pecking. This then was Ashworth. And it was -- what? A colony of artists? A great artist with disciples? An artist who was something of a commercial concern, and who surrounded himself with a limited company -- market men, publicists, accountants? It was, at any rate, at least in the locals' eyes, a unit -- a colony, a community, a clan. He went down farther, toward a gate that divided the little knot of dwellings from the path. The sun disappeared behind the hills, and seemed to alter the look of the place. The big house now looked forbidding, the gardens all slightly forlorn. Charlie's partner was doing a doctorate on Browning, and a line she often quoted came into his mind: "Childe Roland to the dark tower came." Had the boy, Charlie wondered, had something of the same feeling when he'd come to Ashworth earlier in the summer? Copyright © 1998 Robert Barnard. All rights reserved.