The Birthday Gift (1976) by Ursula Curtiss

The Birthday Gift by Ursula Curtiss

5 Stars (5/10 stars)

“He had thought, before, in terms of a thread-end which he could not relinquish. He thought now in terms of fine and nearly invisible wire leading to what, under its look of quiescence, might just possibly be a freshly armed bomb. “

No good deed goes unpunished, as an innocent favor results in deadly consequences for Lydia Peel.  Since she is already traveling to Connecticut to attend a family wedding, it should be no trouble to deliver a birthday gift to her friend’s sister right down the road. Paula and Emmett Blake don’t seem grateful for the present, however. In fact, they can’t wait to get rid of Lydia.

More welcoming is their other guest, Mrs. Chilton. The old lady laughs over a dropped cigarette; she is such a careless smoker by day, she confides, that she doesn’t dare smoke at night. Just a few hours later, though, Mrs. Chilton burns to death in her own bed. Lydia suspects murder, and all at once a simple errand becomes more complicated, and more dangerous, than she could have imagined.  Continue reading “The Birthday Gift (1976) by Ursula Curtiss”

Murder Included (1950) by Joanna Cannan

Murder Included by Joanna Cannan

7 Stars (7/10 stars)

“Won’t the murders put people off coming here as paying guests—what do you think, Bunny?”

Bunny shrugged. “I haven’t a clue. Considering how people read crime fiction, one would think that they might be attracted. Why not exploit it—revise the booklet and put, along with baths and table wines, ‘murder included’?”

Twilight is falling fast for the aristocratic d’Estray family. Sir Charles d’Estray’s new wife Bunny, a bohemian writer, is determined to keep the family’s head above water by turning their ancestral home into a bed and breakfast. It’s not easy, even before the murder.

When a demanding guest is poisoned, Bunny realizes how precarious her position is. She and her daughter Lisa are outsiders, and it’s up to her to keep them from becoming suspects. She never dreams they might end up as victims instead. Continue reading “Murder Included (1950) by Joanna Cannan”

Death Answers the Bell (1932) by Valentine Williams

Death Answers the Bell by Valentine Williams

4 Stars

“I’m a guest in this house, Rod, and if folk choose to hide guns about the place, it seems to me it’s none of my business. And, as far as I’m concerned, it’s no business of the police, either.”

Aline has been warned that neighbor Barry Swete is an incorrigible womanizer, but to her he’s always been just as sweet as his name. So even though it’s after midnight, she doesn’t think twice about dropping by to show him the new gown in which she has just been presented at court. To her horror, Barry lies dead, his blood soaking the hem of her white dress.

In a moment of panic, Aline accepts the offer of a false alibi from her hosts’ son Rodney Rossway. Only later does it occur to her that Rod’s own whereabouts at the time of the murder are also unaccounted for. She soon learns that the seemingly blameless Rossway family is hiding countless secrets behind the walls of their Mayfair mansion. Continue reading “Death Answers the Bell (1932) by Valentine Williams”

Bedelia (1945) by Vera Caspary

Bedelia by Vera Caspary

7 Stars (7/10 stars)

“I don’t want any more of your facts!”

“Maybe they’ll seem more interesting after you’ve had a dose of poison in your boiled rice.”

All his friends agree that Charlie Horst is a lucky man. His new bride Bedelia is the perfect wife, and no one can figure out how shy Charlie managed to win her heart, least of all Charlie himself.

Once the dust settles from their whirlwind courtship, however, Charlie can’t help wondering why his wife is so reluctant to talk about her past. Isn’t Bedelia just a little too good to be true? A sudden snowstorm may reveal the truth, or bury it forever.

Continue reading “Bedelia (1945) by Vera Caspary”

The Secret of High Eldersham (1930) by Miles Burton

The Secret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton

5 Stars (5/10 stars)

“What on earth or in hell are we up against?”

High Eldersham looks like an ordinary English village. The only unusual thing about it is the townspeople’s hostility to strangers, which Samuel Whitehead experiences firsthand when he takes over management of the Rose and Crown pub.

To everyone’s surprise, the retired policeman wins over his new neighbors…at least, until he’s stabbed to death in his own pub. Something devilish is going on in this seemingly tranquil village, and some residents of High Eldersham would do anything to keep their secret. Continue reading “The Secret of High Eldersham (1930) by Miles Burton”

Marilyn K (1960) by Lionel White

Marilyn K by Lionel White

5 Stars (5/10 stars)

“Life is filled with new experiences, but this was one I could have gotten along without. Two dead men in one day is a little hard on the system at best; it makes it sort of rough, when you end up with one of them in the trunk of your car.”

Most men would stop if they saw the luscious Marilyn K. stranded by the side of the road. Sam Russell is no exception. Marilyn’s traveling companion has just been killed in a car crash. He’s a married man, and she doesn’t want to get involved in a scandal. When she begs Sam to drive her to a motel, flashing a suitcase full of cash, it all seems too good to be true…and it is. In the beginning, Sam wants the girl and the money. By morning, he’ll settle for escaping with his life, but it may already be too late. Continue reading “Marilyn K (1960) by Lionel White”

Evil Under the Sun (1941) by Agatha Christie

Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

9 Stars (9/10 stars)

“It is romantic, yes,” agreed Hercule Poirot. “It is peaceful. The sun shines. The sea is blue. But you forget, Miss Brewster, there is evil everywhere under the sun.”

Once, long ago, pirates and smugglers roamed this section of the Devon coast. Today, the island is home to the Jolly Roger Hotel, where a very different sort of piracy seems to be taking place. The hotel is abuzz over the apparent romance between former actress Arlena Marshall and Patrick Redfern, a handsome younger man. Three guests are especially worried by the gossip. Two of them are the lovers’ spouses, Stephen Marshall and Christine Redfern. The third is Hercule Poirot.

Such an explosive situation is bound to ignite. One morning, Arlena is found sunbathing on an isolated beach, her usual habit. The only difference is that this time, Arlena is dead. Continue reading “Evil Under the Sun (1941) by Agatha Christie”