Cat of Many Tails (1949) by Ellery Queen

Cat of Many Tails by Ellery Queen

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

“Ellery, this is killing for the sake of killing. The Cat’s enemies are the human race. Anybody on two legs will do. If you ask me, that’s what’s really cooking in New York. And unless we clamp the lid on this—this homicide, it’s going to boil over.”

Forget the dog days of August. In New York City, summer is the season of the Cat. A killer who “comes and goes like a breeze,” the Cat has brought the entire city to the edge of hysteria. There have been five victims so far, with nothing in common except their terrible ends, strangled to death with silk cords. No one is safe anywhere: not in the subway, not in the park, not even in their own beds.

Ellery Queen retired from detection after his last case went wrong, resulting in the deaths of innocent victims. Solving the Cat murders could lead to his redemption…unless failing to solve them becomes his downfall. Continue reading “Cat of Many Tails (1949) by Ellery Queen”

The Snatchers (1953) by Lionel White

The Snatchers by Lionel White

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“I know about your kind of man. You’d as soon kill as not. You, and those others in there, you’re all of you alike. All of you cowards and killers.”

The kidnapping went off without a hitch, but pulling a job is one thing; getting away with it is another. Cal Dent has been planning this caper for years and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make a clean getaway—even murder. But the more time he spends around one of his beautiful hostages, the more reluctant he is to let her go. As his perfect scheme starts falling apart, how far will Dent go to save his own skin? Continue reading “The Snatchers (1953) by Lionel White”

See Rome and Die (1957) by Louisa Revell

See Rome and Die by Louisa Revell

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“The police here aren’t going to find either an Italian or an American murderer. Not at the rate they’re going. They just aren’t doing anything. They don’t seem to grasp even the first principles of investigating a crime.”

Miss Julia Tyler is finally making the trip to Rome she’s always dreamed of. Practically the moment she arrives, however, she runs into an acquaintance whose well-meaning invitations are seriously disrupting her sightseeing. As a retired Latin teacher, Miss Julia is more interested in ancient Romans than modern ones—until she learns that one of her new friends is Jane Steele, the heiress whose secretary was just found dead under mysterious circumstances.

It doesn’t take long before the feisty spinster is investigating murder, fraud, and adultery among the Italian nobility. Life may be sweet in Rome, but someone is making sure it’s also brutally short. Continue reading “See Rome and Die (1957) by Louisa Revell”

The Chinese Chop (1949) by Juanita Sheridan

The Chinese Chop by Juanita Sheridan

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

I was going to get out of that house. Something evil lived there. Too many people, under a façade of amicable companionship, were disguising ugly secrets.”

With her first novel accepted for publication, Janice Cameron sees the chance to reinvent herself in New York City. The New York housing market is tough, though, especially in the dead of winter. Enter Lily Wu, a fellow Hawaiian who is of Chinese descent. Lily is looking for someone to share a room in a Washington Square townhouse, a very specific house. Why does it have to be that house, Janice wonders, and why tonight? She soon learns that all of its residents have something to hide—and that includes her new roommate Lily. Continue reading “The Chinese Chop (1949) by Juanita Sheridan”

The Chuckling Fingers (1941) by Mabel Seeley

The Chuckling Fingers by Mabel Seeley

5 Stars (5/10 stars)

“Murder is something more than someone dead and someone a killer. I couldn’t get Jacqueline away now. Murder is a trap.”

Ann and Jacqueline are cousins who have always been more like sisters. Jacqueline’s marriage to wealthy lumberman Bill Heaton seems to promise her real happiness at last after the death of her first husband. So Ann is surprised to be summoned to the Heatons’ home on Lake Superior only weeks later, and even more shocked to find her cousin on the verge of a breakdown.

She learns that a number of strange events have been disturbing the Heatons, with the dark atmosphere centering around a rock formation known as the Chuckling Fingers. The stage seems set to repeat a decades-old family tragedy, unless Ann can save her cousin…and herself. Continue reading “The Chuckling Fingers (1941) by Mabel Seeley”

The Slayer and the Slain (1957) by Helen McCloy

The Slayer and the Slain by Helen McCloy

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“They say you never see your own face as others see it because the face you see in a mirror is more self-conscious. Just as you never hear your own voice as others hear it because its tone is distorted by your skull’s resonance. It is hard to obey the philosophic injunction: Know thyself. Perhaps a man knows less about himself than anyone else he encounters.”

He must have slipped on the ice. That’s what everyone says when Harry Vaughan wakes up flat on his back in the middle of campus, twenty minutes of his life gone. He doesn’t remember falling, but it turns out there are a lot of things he doesn’t remember well in the aftermath of the accident.

An inheritance allows Harry to give up his thankless job as a college instructor and relocate to Clearwater, Virginia, his late mother’s hometown. He hopes for a quiet life, maybe to reconnect with a lost love. Soon, however, the community is plagued by unusual events, and his peaceful retreat is growing more dangerous with each passing day. Continue reading “The Slayer and the Slain (1957) by Helen McCloy”

Die in the Dark (1947) by Anthony Gilbert

Die in the Dark by Anthony Gilbert

7 Stars (7/10 stars)

“You see, Mrs. Watson, fear is a wild animal and during these last years he has been unleashed and has roamed through the world, biting and infecting.”

Of all the people who saw the advertisement, only two take special notice. To Emily Watson, it seems like exactly what she needs: a lovely home available for a woman of refinement, surrounded by a peaceful forest. Emily’s accommodating nature has led her to be taken advantage of by a sponging nephew and “temporary” roommate who won’t be dislodged. A cottage in the woods could be the refuge she is looking for.

To Arthur Crook, it looks like a murder waiting to happen. In her haste to escape a bad situation at home, Emily may be rushing headlong toward something even worse. Continue reading “Die in the Dark (1947) by Anthony Gilbert”