The Crime Coast (1929) by Elizabeth Gill

The Crime Coast by Elizabeth Gill

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“It would be discouraging on the eve of a summer holiday to have an unknown man fall into one’s rooms and die on one.”

This holiday in the south of France was supposed to be a big adventure for Paul Ashby and his friends, their last hurrah before settling down to jobs and adulthood. Now the others have cancelled, leaving Paul to make the trip alone. He’s afraid he’ll have a dull time of it. He needn’t have worried.

The night before his departure, a stranger collapses on his doorstep. Major Kent was also planning a trip to France, to find his missing son, but his heart attack makes that impossible. Paul offers to undertake the search himself. This impulsive gesture plunges him into a world of artists, thieves, and killers on the French Riviera, guided by the irrepressible painter Benvenuto Brown. If he’s not careful, however, Paul may find himself the next victim. Continue reading “The Crime Coast (1929) by Elizabeth Gill”

The Swimming Pool (1952) by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Swimming Pool by Mary Roberts Rinehart

4 Stars (4/10 stars)

“What are you afraid of?” I demanded. “Don’t pretend to me, Jude. You’re scared to death. You’ve done something, haven’t you? Something wrong. Maybe something terrible. What is it?”

In the golden days of 1929, beautiful Judith Maynard held court over her admirers beside the swimming pool. Twenty years later, everything has changed for the Maynard family. Their father went broke and committed suicide, and siblings Lois and Paul are barely hanging on their decrepit country estate. Only Judith has remained the same, still lovely, still the center of attention.

Then Judith, too, begins to change. She abruptly divorces her rich, older husband. The darling of cafe society retreats to the isolated family house of her youth, shunning her friends and nailing her bedroom windows shut. Judith is terribly frightened of something, or someone. The swimming pool, once the site of girlhood triumphs, has become a special source of dread. When a dead body appears in the pool, mystery writer Lois must find out just what her sister was so afraid of. What she’s not prepared for is how far back into the past these sins will reach. Continue reading “The Swimming Pool (1952) by Mary Roberts Rinehart”

The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree (1933) by Stuart Palmer

The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree by Stuart Palmer

7 Stars (7/10 stars)

“Young man, I have had the good or bad fortune to have been in contact with several notorious and unsavory cases of homicide during the past two years. Perhaps the poor fellow over there looks like just another case of heart failure to you, but I’m getting so I can detect the very smell of murder.”

A lean forefinger wagged in O’Rourke’s face, and Miss Withers pronounced solemnly, “I can smell murder now!”

The man in brown never intended to take the seaplane to Catalina, but after missing the steamer, he has no choice. Anyway, the flight is only twenty minutes. Even a nervous flyer can handle that.

Suddenly, turbulence throws the man into a panic. “I’m dying,” he cries. “I don’t want to die!” Everyone thinks it’s a case of nerves, but by the time the Dragonfly lands, it carries eight living passengers and one corpse. The man in brown “hadn’t wanted to die, but he was dead.” Continue reading “The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree (1933) by Stuart Palmer”

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 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”

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”