Postern of Fate (1973) by Agatha Christie

Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

3 Stars (3/10 stars)

“It’s a crime we’ve got to solve. Go back to the past to solve it—to where it happened and why it happened. That’s a thing we’ve never tried to do before.”

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford may be over seventy, but it’s never too late for adventure. Much to Tuppence’s delight, their new house comes complete with a collection of vintage children’s books. More than nostalgia lurks within these pages, however. One of these seemingly innocent volumes contains a hidden message: “Mary Jordan did not die naturally. It was one of us. I think I know which.”

Who is Mary Jordan? How did she really die? The solution to this decades-old mystery may be very close to home. Yet, even after all these years, someone wants the fate of Mary Jordan to remain a secret. Continue reading “Postern of Fate (1973) by Agatha Christie”

And Be a Villain (1958) by Joanna Cannan

And Be a Villain by Joanna Cannan

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“The fact is I find that no one in this house has been quite frank with me, and the conclusions I draw from that are necessarily significant and unpleasant ones.”

Richard Hallow may be a doctor, but his touch is far from healing. Not only is the man a compulsive philanderer who is scheming to put his mother-in-law into a nursing home, his neglect of his National Health patients has just led to a baby’s death.

When Richard is found dead of a broken neck on the floor of his surgery the list of suspects is endless. And with the misanthropic Detective Superintendent Price on the case, the path of justice is far from certain. Continue reading “And Be a Villain (1958) by Joanna Cannan”

The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye (1928) by Brian Flynn

The Mystery of the Peacock's Eye by Brian Flynn

7 Stars (7/10 stars)

“The worst mistake any investigator can make is to let his brain run away and play mental Badminton with fanciful theories.”

The Westhampton Hunt Ball is in full swing, “represent[ing] all that was select, some of what was superior, and most of what was supercilious in the county of Westhamptonshire.” There is an extra charge in the air this year, because the local bank has narrowly escaped a scandal that would have financially destroyed many of the revelers. As if that weren’t enough excitement, it’s even rumored that royalty is attending in disguise.

More than a year later, an unidentified woman is found dead in the dentist’s chair at a seaside resort, supposedly a suicide. Who is she? And what really happened at the Westhampton Ball? Continue reading “The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye (1928) by Brian Flynn”

Part for a Poisoner (1948) by E. C. R. Lorac

Part for a Poisoner by E C R Lorac

7 Stars (7/10 stars)

“The woman accused us all,” he said to himself. “And one of the reasons which made her do it was fear. She’s frightened herself…My God! I hope we never see her again.”

Old James Marchment is just asking to be murdered. Years ago, James cheated his brothers out of their shares of the family business. Now, he refuses to help his needy relatives—after all, they’re amply provided for in his will. A bout of pneumonia seems to bring that inheritance within their grasp.

Far from dying, however, James finds a new lease on life. His heirs are horrified to learn that he’s become engaged to his nurse, and his new fiancée  Jean Dellaton makes it clear that things will be very different once she’s mistress of the house. When James suddenly dies before the wedding, there’s more than enough suspicion to go around. Continue reading “Part for a Poisoner (1948) by E. C. R. Lorac”

Thirty Days Hath September (1942) by Dorothy Cameron Disney & George Sessions Perry

Thirty Days Hath September by Dorothy Cameron Disney

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“Nothing like a good murder to salvage a bad week end.”

You can’t build a million-dollar business empire without making a few enemies, and Jenny Iverson has made more than just a few. Even old friends Tom and Sally, her hosts for Labor Day weekend, don’t feel they have much in common with Jenny anymore. They must stay in her good graces, however, as Tom is unemployed and they are hoping she will hire Sally as her new assistant. Their entire future depends on keeping Jenny happy this weekend.

The holiday soon veers wildly off-course, as an untimely cold snap and a burnt dinner give way to blackmail and murder. As Tom and Sally are drawn into a web of suspicion, they begin to wonder whether they really know their friends at all. Continue reading “Thirty Days Hath September (1942) by Dorothy Cameron Disney & George Sessions Perry”

The Case of the Lazy Lover (1947) by Erle Stanley Gardner

The Case of the Lazy Lover by Erle Stanley Gardner

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“This is once,” he said, “that not only does Perry Mason’s client have her neck in the noose, but the great Perry Mason put it there.”

Lola Allred needs a lawyer—but why? Perry Mason often receives retainer checks in the mail from potential clients. What is unusual is to receive two $2,500 checks from the same person drawn on two different banks. One is forged, one genuine, neither explaining what he’s been hired for.

When Mason goes looking for Lola, she’s nowhere to be found. Her husband says she’s run off with another man. Mason’s not so sure. The deeper he digs, the more dirt he finds on the wealthy Allred family. It seems that nobody’s hands are clean in this case, and it will take all of Mason’s legal wiles to uncover the truth Continue reading “The Case of the Lazy Lover (1947) by Erle Stanley Gardner”

The Blackheath Poisonings (1978) by Julian Symons

The Blackheath Poisonings by Julian Symons

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“Tonight, up in my room, I say again in this journal that there was something strange about Father’s death. Why was he struck down, and nobody else? And when he was so much better, why did he become ill again? Why can I not remember what it was I noted in the bedroom? I want to ask all sorts of questions, but who could give me the right answers?”

What could be better than a good old-fashioned Victorian family poisoning? In the long-ago days of the 1890s, two monstrous houses stand side by side. Albert House is the home of family matriarch Harriet Collard, her spinster daughter Charlotte, and poor relation Bertie Williams. Victoria Villa houses Harriet’s two other children. George Collard and his beautiful wife Isabel share the house with his sister Beatrice, her husband Roger Vandervent, and Roger’s teenage son Paul. The arrangement wouldn’t suit everyone, but life in the two villas seems harmonious.

Behind closed doors, however, this seemingly staid Victorian family is rotten at the core. Their secrets won’t stay hidden for long, as a spate of murders threaten to reveal the passions and hatreds that these poisonous relations are desperate to keep buried. Continue reading “The Blackheath Poisonings (1978) by Julian Symons”