Conversations, conversations, and still more conversations. I don’t think I have ever read a mystery in which there were so many conversations between the various characters. At times, it seemed Lorac was writing a Novel of Ideas rather than a mystery. And the situation is definitely serious. It is 1939 and the Jewish Question is foremost in the minds of many men. Would England turn to fascism? Can the Communists be relied upon? And what about the Jews? Refugees are pouring in. Which way will England turn? A strong man is need of the hour but if that strong man has something to hide? So people discuss and discuss…
On top of that, names that I kept on confusing like Gilbert Mantland and Mark Garlandt. And at one point Gilbert Mantland being referred to as Richard Mantland (pg. 69) when there was a Richard Caird in the novel.
The murderer’s identity was a surprise because in the early part of the novel, there was a huge clue pointing in his/her direction but because it was so obvious I thought that it wouldn’t be so. And Lorac also keeps a lot of information hidden from the reader. So all in all, I wasn’t happy with the mystery though as a social document of its age, this book is quite good.
First Line: Standing at the foot of the staircase in Strafford House, Sir John Soane sighed involuntarily, though his eyes were smiling under their shaggy white brows.
Publication Details: London: Collins (The Crime Club), 1939
First Published: 1939
Series: Macdonald #16
Other books read of the same author: (Among Others) The Slippery Staircase