The Late Clara Beame (1963) by Taylor Caldwell

Book cover of The Late Clara Beame by Taylor Caldwell (1963)

6 stars (6/10 stars)

Christmas proceeds as scheduled, come snow, darkness, alarms in the night, bullets and Borgia cups! What a wonderful spirit America has. Disaster to the right, disaster to the left, disaster fore and aft, and America beams at Christmas and pretends all is deliciously right in this worst of all possible worlds. How about some drinks?”

Last Christmas, Sam Bulowe died of poison. Police have closed the case as suicide, but Sam’s “ice-blue” widow Alice and her hard-as-nails brother are determined to find his killer. At least that’s what they tell each other. Brother David is convinced that their relatives Laura and Henry Frazier know more than they’re saying about the death. Something will have to be done about them, one way or another.

Christmas is coming again—what better time to find out exactly what happened to Sam? However, the situation becomes increasingly tense as a snowstorm traps the family in their country home with a mysterious stranger. Who will survive to ring in the new year? Continue reading “The Late Clara Beame (1963) by Taylor Caldwell”

The Hardway Diamonds Mystery (1930) by Miles Burton

Book cover of The Hardway Diamonds Mystery by Miles Burton (1930)

5 Stars (5/10 stars)

“Well if you’d like it in tabloid form, I am suspected by one Inspector Pollard of the C.I.D. of pinching the Maharajah’s rubies.”

It’s the perfect night for a jewel robbery. Passing unseen through the thick fog, Mr. Herridge easily breaks into the Hardway mansion and slips out again with the family’s famous diamond necklace. He is just congratulating himself on a job well done when handcuffs emerge from the darkness to close around his wrists.

But it’s no police officer who confiscates the diamonds. Scotland Yard detectives believe the Hardway diamonds are now in possession of a master criminal, a man of infinite ruthlessness and cunning. Lady Hardway’s brother Dick Penhampton descends into London’s underworld in search of the man known to police as the Funny Toff. His goal is to recover the diamonds. Soon enough he is fighting for his freedom and his life. Continue reading “The Hardway Diamonds Mystery (1930) by Miles Burton”

No Tears for the Dead (1948) by Rae Foley

Book cover of No Tears for the Dead by Rae Foley (1948)

6 stars (6/10 stars)

Be very careful, young man. I am going to give you some advice. You came here looking for peace but you won’t find it.”

It was a commonplace murder, a small-time private detective shot to death in his office. The kind of killing that doesn’t make the front page. It’s only by pure chance that Alan Scott sees the brief article, just as it was pure chance that he shared a restaurant table with the detective only the night before. The victim was a nice guy, worried about the case he was working on.

After his war service, Alan has had enough of killing. Maybe that’s why he takes up the case himself. All he knows is that someone is in danger at the Pilgrim Inn in rural Connecticut. Can he prevent another murder, or is it already too late? Continue reading “No Tears for the Dead (1948) by Rae Foley”

Weekend at Thrackley (1934) by Alan Melville

Book cover of Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville (1934)

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“I’ve a sickening sensation that this is going to be one of the world’s worst weekends.”

Aspiring writer Jim Henderson can’t afford to turn down a free meal, let alone an entire weekend at the stately home of Thrackley. Admittedly, he can’t remember ever meeting his host Edwin Carson, who claims to have known his late father in South Africa. Still, once he manages to scrounge a set of evening clothes, Jim anticipates a pleasant house party.

It soon becomes clear that something very strange is going on at Thrackley. For one thing, none of the wealthy and prominent guests seem to know their host. And why is Carson’s daughter Mary so afraid of him? Wisecracking Jim and his slightly dim pal Freddie Usher are woefully unprepared for the conspiracy they’ve stumbled into.

Continue reading “Weekend at Thrackley (1934) by Alan Melville”

The Book of the Lion (1948) by Elizabeth Daly

Book cover of The Book of the Lion by Elizabeth Daly (1948)
 (5/10 stars, average)

“Just do me one favor…Don’t get interested in my affairs. Three people dead in two days, two suicides and one probable murder. Keep away from me, will you? You’re poison.”

Normally, literary detective Henry Gamadge wouldn’t take on this kind of job, a simple appraisal of correspondence. He’s willing to make an exception when the letters belonged to Paul Bradlock. An iconic author of the Lost Generation, Bradlock outlived his time and died in obscurity at a young age. In fact, Gamadge seems to recall that he died of violence. But there was too much going on in the world in 1945 for anyone to pay attention to a has-been like Bradlock.

Maybe they should have, as his papers may hold the clue to a lost Chaucer manuscript. Gamadge finds himself juggling Bradlock’s murder, a suicide that might not be, and the search for a potentially priceless document. What began as a routine job has turned deadly.

Continue reading “The Book of the Lion (1948) by Elizabeth Daly”

The Black Path of Fear (1944) by Cornell Woolrich

Book Cover of The Black Path of Fear by Cornell Woolrich (1944)

7 Stars (7/10 stars)

“She’d never liked the dark; I remember her telling me that many times. She’d never liked to be alone in it, either. And now she had to go there, where that was all there was, just those two things. I stood there, very still and very straight, with my eyes on her to the last.

“So she went out that way, into the black Havana night, without diamonds, without love, without dreams.”

They didn’t ask to go to Zulueta Street, but they ended up there anyway. For Bill Scott and Eve Roman, this was supposed to be the beginning of a new life together, away from her gangster husband. They thought Havana was far enough to run. They thought wrong.

When Eve is stabbed to death in the middle of a crowded bar, their love story comes to an abrupt end. A grief-stricken Scotty is framed for her murder. If he can’t clear himself, Zulueta Street will be the end of the line for him as well.

Continue reading “The Black Path of Fear (1944) by Cornell Woolrich”

Hasty Wedding (1937) by Mignon G. Eberhart

Book cover of Hasty Wedding by Mignon G Eberhart (1937)

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

“When this thing is over,” she said, “we’ll have to start getting an entirely new set of servants.”

The wedding went off without a hitch. Dorcas Whipple was resigned to the forced ending of her relationship with Ronald Drew and the hurried marriage of convenience to a suitable family friend. The guests know all about that. Most of them have seen this morning’s headlines, screaming of Ronald’s suicide on the eve of his beloved’s wedding. But none of them, not even her groom Jevan Locke, know that Dorcas was in Ronald’s apartment last night.

The bride allows herself a grim relief as the car pulls away from the church. Then, her new husband takes her in his arms. “I know you killed him,” he whispers.

Continue reading “Hasty Wedding (1937) by Mignon G. Eberhart”