“We think we live in a free country. But nobody in Santa Maria dares lift a finger unless she says yes. I’ve often wondered why she wanted to stay here after Brandon left her. I think it’s because she’s dictatorial by nature and doesn’t care to live where anyone else might be considered as important as herself.”
Until a few years ago, Santa Maria, New Mexico, was a sleepy artist’s colony. Then Mona Brandon swept into town with her millions and began making changes. Some residents love her, others hate her, but ignoring her is impossible.
Jean Holly has watched the whole saga unfold from the vantage point of her little jewelry shop. She manages to keep from getting involved, until one day a dead body is found in the desert. Some speculate that it’s Mona’s husband Tom, who disappeared three years ago. Though Jean isn’t interested in murder, she’s quite interested in Patrick Abbott, the out-of-town detective who gets drawn into the case. This quiet little village is about to get very lively, and Jean has a front-row seat. Continue reading “The Turquoise Shop (1941) by Frances Crane”
“A cask containing money and a human hand—probably a body,” he mused. “It’s a queer business and something has got to be done about it.”
The Insular and Continental Steam Navigation Company handles countless shipments every day. Accidents are rare, but they do happen. When some wooden casks are damaged, a clerk is sent to examine the cargo. To his shock, the crack in one of the casks reveals gold sovereigns…and a woman’s hand. Inspector Burnley of Scotland Yard must pursue the mysterious cask all over London and Paris before he can discover the dark secrets it contains. Continue reading “The Cask (1920) by Freeman Wills Crofts”
“It’s murder,” said the sergeant. “Murder. And you’ve started the machinery whose wheels will only cease running when the culprit has been brought to justice. You’ve been a bit slow, if you’ll excuse my saying so, to see all the implications, but the fact remains that you set the law in motion, Mr. Dene. You put the penny in the slot, in a manner of speaking. It’ll be something for you to remember.”
As far as she knows, Amy Steer is alone in the world, struggling to earn her own living in London. It seems like a miracle when she is offered a home by her previously unknown aunt, Harriet Hall. But why does the nice young man she meets on the train abandon Amy after learning who her aunt is? Why isn’t she met at the station? And why is there no sign of Mrs. Hall when Amy arrives at her lonely cottage? When Harriet Hall’s corpse turns up at the bottom of a well, Amy learns that her aunt was hiding some deadly secrets. Continue reading “The Strange Case of Harriet Hall (1936) by Moray Dalton”
“There are only two men in the house, not counting the butler, footman, chauffeur, and two gardeners, I hardly anticipate difficulty in narrowing the hunt down to one.”
Imagine being paralyzed, except for one finger. Staring straight ahead, day after day, night after night, unable to move or speak. Even when you witness a murder, all you can do is lift a finger… Continue reading “The Moving Finger (1918) by Natalie Sumner Lincoln”
“The hat is the focal point of this investigation—I cannot see any other way out of it. Solve the mystery of Field’s hat and you will find the one essential clue that will point to the murderer.”
It’s a rainy night on Broadway, but theatregoers are packing the aisles to see the hit gangster show Gunplay. Enthralled by the imaginary blood and guts on stage, no one notices an audience member’s quiet collapse. Murder has struck the Roman Theatre for real, and it’s up to Inspector Richard Queen and his son Ellery to crack the case. There are a few clues, but Ellery is most struck by the clue that isn’t there: the victim’s top hat is missing. This seemingly insignificant detail will allow the Queens to trap a killer. Continue reading “The Roman Hat Mystery (1929) by Ellery Queen”
“Last Saturday—calm, normal, decent, with the prospect of a quiet dinner party. This Saturday—funeral details causing sorrow, two murders, suspicion directed at the whole family, and general ghastliness.”
Laura Tashdera has been running wild ever since her family broke up an engagement with cousin Tom ten years earlier. But recently she’s grown even more reckless—just how reckless, her cousin Anne is about to learn. When Tom announces his forthcoming marriage, an angry Laura walks out into the fog. She will never be seen alive again. Continue reading “The Fog Comes (1941) by Mary Collins”
“As one man becomes an engineer and another a doctor, so Henry became a husband. It was his living. The knocking off of his various wives when they had served their purpose was part of the routine, and involved no personal dislike or revenge…It was all perfectly simple, and his conscience never gave him a twinge.”
Some men balk at marriage, but not Henry. He’s always been an eager bridegroom. First to Greta…then Beryl…then Flora.
No one is likely to notice the commonplace deaths of insignificant middle-aged women—no one except lawyer Arthur Crook, who collects potential murders. When Sarah enters Henry’s life, it’s up to Crook to prove the truth about Henry’s career of widowhood before it’s too late. Continue reading “Lady-Killer (1951) by Anthony Gilbert”