“She was a menace! So many people must be thankful to know she’s dead. It’s a dreadful thing to say, but it’s true.”
Lilian Mayden has always been an invalid, so her death from a heart ailment is not unexpected. The only surprising part is that Lilian had a heart in the first place. Even in the cathedral town of Paulborough, whose residents consider gossip a holy calling, Lilian’s brand of gossip is exceptional for its malice.
The only person who seems dissatisfied about Lilian’s death is her doctor, since her condition was stable the last time he saw her. The postmortem results are astonishing: Lilian Mayden died of electrocution. How could a woman be electrocuted in her own sitting-room? Continue reading “Policemen in the Precinct (1949) by E. C. R. Lorac”
“We all set out feeling supremely confident. Everybody liked everybody else. We didn’t all know one another, but everybody was vouched for by somebody. So and so’s friend, he’s O.K. Now we feel we’ve got a snake in the grass and we don’t know who the snake is.”
As assorted Londoners stumble through a dark and cloudy New Year’s Day, some of them have reason to be grateful they are about to depart on a ski holiday to Austria. Sunny skies and bright, clean snow await them. Others are not so fortunate. Inspector Rivers and Sergeant Lancing are stuck back in London, investigating a fatal house fire. The cheerful skiing party seems a thousand miles away from a murder in London, but as the investigation progresses, Rivers wonders just how far murder can reach. Continue reading “Crossed Skis (1952) by Carol Carnac”
“I regard this house as a nightmare, no more, no less. It belongs to a past period, and no family is ever likely to live here again. If Anne had any sense, she’d sell it and go and live in the Mediterranean; but she prefers this house and arthritis with it, and it’s her funeral, isn’t it?”
As Inspector Julian Rivers acknowledges, “Some houses are a problem.” In the case of Dene House, that’s an understatement. Massive and ugly, it molders away in the Devonshire countryside. It’s the only place elderly invalid Anne Tempest is willing to live, to the annoyance of her niece Isobelle, who is dying to get back to London. Then Isobelle has a brainstorm. Her young niece and nephew, Jane and Roland Tempest, have been at loose ends since the end of the war. With the housing shortage, they might be willing to move into the servants’ cottage and help with Anne’s care.
Isobelle’s plan works a little too well. Anne’s fondness for the young people makes her maid jealous and her other relations nervous for their inheritances. It will be Anne Tempest’s funeral, all right, and that funeral is coming sooner than she thinks. Continue reading “It’s Her Own Funeral (1951) by Carol Carnac”
“I know how careful the hunted have to be, and how cunning.”
A Jewish refugee in London is robbed of the pearls that represent her only savings. A dead woman bobs up in the Thames. And Elsaby Thorn barely catches the train to Penzance, thanks to handsome stranger Guy Lynton, who carries her striped suitcase for her. It’s only when they’re pulled off the train by Scotland Yard that Elsaby learns it isn’t her suitcase at all—someone at the station switched cases, walking off with her boss’s latest scientific discovery.
Chief Inspector Julian Rivers is convinced these three events are connected, he just isn’t sure how. Was the theft of the suitcase intentional espionage, an attempt by the thief to ditch his own incriminating luggage, or simply a mixup? Whatever the reason, Elsaby is in it up to her neck, and Guy Lynton may be the last person she should trust. Continue reading “The Striped Suitcase (1946) by Carol Carnac”
“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”