Friday’s Forgotten Book: Treason in My Breast by Anthony Gilbert (1938)

Have you ever noticed in murder cases how often it’s some trivial detail that tips the scale? Some flower-seller or some old woman running out to the post or a dog getting run over at a moment when you couldn’t allow for any of those things happening…

Janet Scott, wife of a young solicitor, Gerald Scott, has the habit of keeping an eye on the flats opposite her home while doing her own house-hold chores and dreaming of the luxuries that the flats seem to possess. There is one flat that especially holds her attention with its big windows, the cool billowing curtains, the telephone… and the handsome dark-haired couple that lives in it, full of vitality and energy.

However, one day she sees standing at the window not the husband, Captain Berry, or his wife but a fair, frail figure, crying out in distress and trying to use the telephone. The curtains get drawn again before Janet can see anything else but that tragic face imprints itself on her mind. That evening when her husband brings home a guest, fellow-lawyer, Arthur Crook, she tells him the whole episode. Both Gerald and Crook tell her not to meddle in the affairs of another family, a warning they repeat when Janet somehow gains an entry into Captain Berry’s flat and finds that the girl whom she saw at the window is ostensibly mentally challenged and kept bound. The nurse, over there, tells her that the girl often accuses the Berry couple of trying to kill her. And indeed, the girl dies and it turns out that she was a distant relative of Captain Berry who had arrived a few days before from Australia. Janet senses foul play and her suspicions are strengthened when it comes out that a legacy which was to be the girl’s has in the event of her death passed to Captain Berry. Janet gets Arthur Crook interested but the Berry couple has gone abroad, so how do they bring the culprits to justice… if they are the culprits.

The book is not a great mystery though there are a few twists but I found it extremely entertaining though I wish Gerald had not been side-lined as the story progressed because the scenes between husband and wife were pretty amusing.

Any suggestions regarding these “seen out of window” mysteries?

*

First Line: It was on a burning afternoon in July that Janet Scott, domestically stitching new curtains for her house in Hermitage Square, saw at the window opposite the terrible, the unforgettable face that was to haunt her for months to come.

Publication Details: 1938. London: Collins (The Crime Club), 1938

Series: Arthur Crook #4

Pages: 252

Other Opinions: The Grandest Game in the World

Other books read of the same author: (Among Others) Death in the Wrong Room

9 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Book: Treason in My Breast by Anthony Gilbert (1938)

  1. This does sound entertaining, Neeru, even if the mystery itself wasn’t at the top. I like that hint of Rear Window, where a habit of watching the neighbours has some…unexpected results. That trope really can work if it’s done well.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I haven’t read an Anthony Gilbert book in a while. The premise of the story doesn’t sound that great but really I read mysteries as much for the characters and the writing,, so I will check this one out sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Margot above already said what I was going to. Definite shades of Rear Window in this one. Am glad it was an entertaining read even if the mystery wasn’t the best. For a change Gilbert is an author I have come across but not tried so far

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have a treasure-trove waiting for you Mallika. Just don’t start with Clock in the Hat Box or Death Knocks Three Times. they are such twisty classics that every other Gilbert would pale in comparison.

      Liked by 1 person

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