“Imagination’s a good servant but a bad master.”
Godfrey Martson, secretary and friend to Ernest Prentice and his wife, Olivia, is distressed when he sees their marriage falling apart. His distress increases when he is informed that Olivia has been seeing a lot of Lord Byron-lookalike-actor Carrington Case. When he talks to Olivia about it, she doesn’t deny it but tells that Ernest is goading her further by having detectives shadow her. More trouble arises when Ernest asks Godfrey to accompany him to Cat’s Cradle, a night-club where Godfrey knows Olivia meets Carrington Case. Knowing fully well that if Ernest sees his wife in the company of the actor, he will lose his temper and a scene might ensue, Godfrey asks Olivia not to go to the club on that particular day. However, Olivia becomes all the more determined to do so.
When Godfrey and Ernest reach the club they are told that Olivia was there but had just left. A friend corners Godfrey and before he can get away, Ernest has gone by himself in pursuit of his wife. A troubled Godfrey goes back to the Prentices’ home, his mind full of misgivings. And his misgivings come true when a policeman arrives and tells him someone had stabbed Olivia at the Sark Street Chapel, a place which Godfrey knows is just a few paces from Carrington Case’s home. Soon Ernest arrives in a disheveled state…
As the police start their investigation, Godfrey too keeps on thinking of the case. Who could have murdered Olivia? Or perhaps Olivia wasn’t the intended target at all. Could Jeanne, a girl Godfrey has fallen in love with, and whom he first mistook for Olivia, be the intended target? After all she has just inherited a considerable sum. The needle of suspicion moves from one person to another…
This is a simple mystery, good enough to while away some hours. And I have a sneaking suspicion that it was written to put imaginative amateurs in their place.
The only information that I have been able to get about the author, Thomas Cobb (1854-1932), is that he wrote crime novels as well as books for children. Black Heath has republished a few of his titles, including this one.
Have you read him?
First Line: The series of events which preceded the crime, subsequently notorious as the “Sark Street Chapel Murder,” began as far as Godfrey Martson was concerned, on the evening in December, when he saw his old friend, Leonard Ambury, at the corner of Northumberland Avenue.
First Published: 1930