“Carstairs!” He calls out. “Carstairs.”
The aforementioned Carstairs comes in and looks at the man with a wearily resigned disgust. The man apologises for his regrettable condition. Carstair’s expression of weary disgust doesn’t go away. After looking at the man for a few moments, he lumbers out of the room in silent dignity, head held high and tail held stiff.
No…Wait! What was that?! Tail!!!
Yes, because Carstairs is a Great Dane. So big, in fact, that his master Doan thinks he ought to be another species altogether. And above all, he is a champion, and he had a long and imposing list of very high-class ancestors. He was fond of Doan in a well-bred way, but he had never been able to reconcile himself to having such a low person for a master. Whenever they went out for a stroll together,Carstairs always walked either far behind or ahead, so no one would suspect his relationship with Doan. (1)
Carstairs and Doan are the creation of American crime writer, Norbert Davis. Doan himslef is employed by the Severn Detective Agency Agency in Bay City : He was a short, round man with a round pinkly innocent face and impossibly bland blue eyes. He had corn-yellow hair and dimples in his cheeks. At first glance–and at the second and third for that matter–he looked like the epitome of all the suckers that had ever come down the pike. He looked so harmless it was pitiful. It wasn’t until you considered him for some time that you began to see that there was something wrong with the picture. He looked just a little too innocent. (1)
This delightful pair (or jodi as we say in Hindustani) first appeared in the 1940 novella Holocaust House, published in two parts in the November 16th and 23rd issues of Argosy.
Doan is asked by his employer (the long-suffering J.S. Toggery) to safe-guard an heiress by the name of Sheila Alden. Her father had left an immense fortune for her. As she is about to turn 21, and her case has acquired immense negative publicity, the girl has retreated to a small lodge on a barren mountain site.
Doan reaches the place only to stumble at once upon a corpse. If that wasn’t bad enough, the lodge too is thick with tension. There is Brill, a nervous young man from the bank that is acting as Sheila’s guardian, there is Sheila who seems smitten with a handsome young man Crwoely who ostensibly lost his way in the storm and landed up at the lodge, and Joan Greg, Sheila’s secretary who threatens to kill her mistress. To further complicate matters, there are Kokomo, the mean caretaker,and Jannen the station-master who harbours a grudge against Sheila’s father.
All in all, the stage is set for murder. And murder does happen. But who among the small circle of suspects is the murderer?
I enjoyed this breezy read and will love to read more of Doan and Carstairs.
Opening Lines: WHEN DOAN WOKE up he was lying flat on his back on top of a bed with his hat pulled down over his eyes. He lay quite still for some time, listening cautiously, and then he tipped the hat up and looked around. He found to his relief that he was in his own apartment and that it was his bed he was lying on.
Title: Holocaust House
Author: Norbert Davis
First Published: 1940
Other Books read of the same author: None
Trivia: Norbert Davis was a favourite of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Kindle edition of the book can be purchased on the Net. It can also be downloaded for free from Manybooks.net.
Submitted for the following challenges: 52 Books in 52 Weeks, 2013 Ebooks, Birth Year- Honors, Let Me count the Ways, Vintage Mystery (Dynamic Duos), and What Countries Have I Visited.
Entry for Fridays Forgotten Books.