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”

A Dram of Poison (1956) by Charlotte Armstrong

A Dram of Poison by Charlotte Armstrong 1956

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

“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 Roman Hat Mystery (1929) by Ellery Queen

The Roman Hat Mystery by Ellery Queen 1929 book cover

5 Stars (5/10 stars)

“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”

A Puzzle for Fools (1936) by Patrick Quentin

A Puzzle for Fools by Patrick Quentin 1936

7 Stars (7/10 stars)

“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”

The So Blue Marble (1940) by Dorothy B. Hughes

Book cover of The So Blue Marble by Dorothy B Hughes (1940)

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“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”