“Death and destruction,” murmured Mr. Gibson, “in small packages.”
A man bent on suicide smuggles poison out of his neighbor’s lab, only to absent-mindedly misplace it. Now a deadly poison is lost in the city—odorless, tasteless, and disguised as an innocent bottle of olive oil. To find the missing bottle, Kenneth Gibson must expose his most shameful secrets to his friends and family, but as the hunt continues, a number of hidden truths emerge. Can this ragtag group retrieve the poison before it’s too late? Continue reading “A Dram of Poison (1956) by Charlotte Armstrong”
“The hat is the focal point of this investigation—I cannot see any other way out of it. Solve the mystery of Field’s hat and you will find the one essential clue that will point to the murderer.”
It’s a rainy night on Broadway, but theatregoers are packing the aisles to see the hit gangster show Gunplay. Enthralled by the imaginary blood and guts on stage, no one notices an audience member’s quiet collapse. Murder has struck the Roman Theatre for real, and it’s up to Inspector Richard Queen and his son Ellery to crack the case. There are a few clues, but Ellery is most struck by the clue that isn’t there: the victim’s top hat is missing. This seemingly insignificant detail will allow the Queens to trap a killer. Continue reading “The Roman Hat Mystery (1929) by Ellery Queen”
“There seems no motive, but then you don’t need motives in a place like this.”
Broadway producer Peter Duluth fell into a bottle after the death of his wife. It’s a long climb back out, and his recovery is not helped by the sinister whispers he hears at night—his own voice, warning of murder. He discovers that many of his fellow patients at the Lenz Sanitarium are similarly troubled. Have they simply lost their minds, or is someone trying to drive them insane? When a suspicious death does take place, Peter is the only one who can solve the mystery, even at the risk of his own sanity.
Continue reading “A Puzzle for Fools (1936) by Patrick Quentin”
“It isn’t as easy as that to have murders forgotten.”
He was deliberately patronizing. “It is obvious that you are lacking in experience, dear Griselda.”
Griselda Satterlee is no stranger to drama. Once a movie star, Griselda abandoned Hollywood three years ago to forge a new career in New York. It’s a peaceful life. At least, until she meets the twins.
On her way home one evening, Griselda is snatched by a pair of sinister men who force their way into her apartment. The kidnappers are handsome identical twins, one dark and one fair, impeccable in white tie and tails. They don’t want to hurt her (they claim) but are willing to do anything to secure “the very blue marble.” Anything.
Griselda would be happy to hand over the marble, if she only knew where it was. Her quest for the little blue trinket soon turns into a living nightmare that threatens everyone she holds dear.
Continue reading “The So Blue Marble (1940) by Dorothy B. Hughes”
“Heaven forbid I should ever meet up with another Wentworth girl. If they’re all like Grace Hough, that place must be a congregation of female vipers.”
For the other girls at Wentworth College, campus life is an endless round of parties and dates. They even use a school-approved “cultural” outing to sneak into a nightclub. Grace Hough has never quite fit in, though, especially since her bankrupt father killed himself. So her roommate Lee Lovering is happy when Grace starts getting special delivery letters from an admirer. She even lets Grace wear her fur coat to meet this secret boyfriend.
After a hectic night out in New York City, Lee runs into Grace, leaving the theater with a red-haired naval officer. She will never see her roommate alive again.
Continue reading “Death and the Maiden (1939) by Q. Patrick”
There was a little story. I knew there had to be.
Charlotte Armstrong’s most distinctive quality as an author is her clear-eyed but unshakable faith in humanity—certainly a rare perspective in crime fiction. Though she was capable of terrible darkness, the quintessential Armstrong plot involves the prevention of wrongdoing rather than its investigation and ends with the characters learning that they can be better people with just a little effort.
Continue reading “I See You (1956) by Charlotte Armstrong”