The Mystery at Orchard House (1946) by Joan Coggin

The Mystery at Orchard House by Joan Coggin

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“We have been recommended this hotel as very quiet,” went on Miss Popham.

Lupin was about to reply that it was fairly quiet except for a few burglaries, elopements, fires, and attempted murders, but on second thoughts decided silence would be best.

Lady Lupin Hastings is in need of a long rest following a bout with influenza. Her friend Diana’s guest house seems like the perfect place to recuperate. Instead of rest and relaxation, however, Lupin finds herself at the center of a crime wave that threatens Diana’s business—and the guests’ lives. Will the sweetly daffy Lupin be able to keep the hotel running while dealing with artistic temperaments, broken romances, and any number of suspicious “accidents”? Continue reading “The Mystery at Orchard House (1946) by Joan Coggin”

Hide in the Dark (1929) by Frances Noyes Hart

Hide in the Dark by Frances Noyes Hart

3 Stars (3/10 stars)

“But it was more than a ghost story that you promised us, surely? It was a murder story, and I’m rather a connoisseur in murder.”

On Halloween night, thirteen guests descend upon the Maryland estate of Lady’s Court. Eleven are members of the March Hares, a group of the maddest young people in pre-World War I Washington DC. There were originally twelve March Hares: ten years ago, just after their last gathering, nineteen-year-old Sunny Leighton died mysteriously.

The weekend quickly reignites old loves and old hatreds, between games of bobbing for apples and “hide in the dark.” It’s all fun and games until the lights come back on. Even March Hares can’t outrun death. Continue reading “Hide in the Dark (1929) by Frances Noyes Hart”

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”

The Listening Eye (1955) by Patricia Wentworth

The Listening Eye by Patricia Wentworth

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“Visits from the police are not apt to leave a happy atmosphere behind them.”

After being bombed in the Blitz, Paulina Paine was lucky to escape with her life. Though the bombing left her unable to hear, she has become a skilled lip-reader and carved out a pleasant life for herself—until one afternoon, she witnesses an astonishing conversation between two strangers speaking of robbery and murder. What worries her is that if she could see these men, they could see her.

Scotland Yard does not take Paulina’s report seriously, but Maud Silver does. The former governess turned private investigator follows the scantiest of clues to a country house that is seething with crime and treachery. Continue reading “The Listening Eye (1955) by Patricia Wentworth”

The Strange Case of Harriet Hall (1936) by Moray Dalton

The Strange Case of Harriet Hall by Moray Dalton 1936 book cover

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“It’s murder,” said the sergeant. “Murder. And you’ve started the machinery whose wheels will only cease running when the culprit has been brought to justice. You’ve been a bit slow, if you’ll excuse my saying so, to see all the implications, but the fact remains that you set the law in motion, Mr. Dene. You put the penny in the slot, in a manner of speaking. It’ll be something for you to remember.”

As far as she knows, Amy Steer is alone in the world, struggling to earn her own living in London. It seems like a miracle when she is offered a home by her previously unknown aunt, Harriet Hall. But why does the nice young man she meets on the train abandon Amy after learning who her aunt is? Why isn’t she met at the station? And why is there no sign of Mrs. Hall when Amy arrives at her lonely cottage? When Harriet Hall’s corpse turns up at the bottom of a well, Amy learns that her aunt was hiding some deadly secrets. Continue reading “The Strange Case of Harriet Hall (1936) by Moray Dalton”

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”