John Piper, is attending the wedding of Adele Vincent, the daughter of a business client, Stuart Vincent, to Kenneth Bradley, when he becomes aware of an undercurrent of tension in the room as the bride and the groom prepare to depart for their honeymoon. Adele who had gone to her room to change her dress is suddenly seen beckoning furtively to Piper. When Piper goes to her, he finds her in a terrible state of nervousness. She asks him to get her father who according to her will put things right. When Piper asks her to go back to her room and he’ll bring her father there, she becomes hysterical. Piper goes back into the hall to get Vincent but by the time he comes back with him, Adele has disappeared. The two men make their way to the room where they find Adele’s belongings but Adele herself is missing and there is a smell of cordite. Soon Piper gets to know the troubled history of Adele with her father-in-law, Alfred Bradley, mincing no words and blaming his son Kenneth of having married a mentally imbalanced person. He has no sympathy for either his son or daughter-in-law but in order to avoid a public scandal asks Piper to look into the matter and find out the whereabouts of Adele. Vincent reveals that Adele had changed after her return home from her boarding school, Bishop Turton. She had become moody and uncommunicative, locking herself in her room and refusing to talk or come out, and at times disappearing for a night without any explanation. But recently her temperament had improved and especially after her engagement with Kenneth she had become the lively girl she was earlier. What then could have brought about a set-back? Was the presence of former lover, Brian Pugh, at the wedding, responsible for all this? What about the gun that was fired in the room? And does Adele’s disappearance have anything to do with the corpse of an unknown man found subsequently in the hotel? Piper begins his investigations and realises that to understand the present he would have to dig out the past.
This is the earliest of John Piper’s books that I have read so far. Unlike the other books read, the first line of this does not begin with a mention of the day and time so apparently this is something that the author only started doing later. Again, as in the last read of this author, The Seeds of Hate, Piper’s friend, the reporter Quinn does not make an appearance and though I missed him, Inspector Hoyle was good and I liked his relationship with Piper. A curious detail was when in a conversation Vincent mentioned that Piper was planning to marry again. From the first book, Death Trap (1970), that I read of this series, I know, that Piper had married again when his first wife died in an accident but even in Vendetta which came a decade after this book, Piper was still a widower, grieving the death of his wife and not so willing to move on so now I am curious whether Piper married thrice.
First Line: The Cranbourne Hotel is one of London’s select establishments.
Publication Details: 1953. London: Collins (The Crime Club), 1953
Series: John Piper #4
7 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Book: School for Murder by Harry Carmichael (1953)”
Those story arc details can be intriguing, can’t they, Neeru? The setup for this story is really interesting, and of course the suspense builds even more when Adele disappears. You bring up an important point, too, about introducing a new character (like Hoyle here). I think that has to be done carefully, and the character has to fit well into the story. Otherwise it’s jarring, or at least it is to me.
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Yes, Margot, new characters can work both ways. As a reader since I fall in love with certain characters I don’t like them being replaced or missing in books in a series unless there is a valid reason for it. And though it’s no fault of theirs, I can even dislike intensely a new character who takes the place of an old favourite.😀
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Excellent premise – sounds like a winner. And interesting to get Piper’s life out of chronology!
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It is a good one Simon though the weakest among the Carmichaels that I have read. In this series, I am very interested in the lives of both Piper and Quinn. As important to me as the mystery:)
Hello Neeru, this is not a comment for the blog, feel free to delete. This is the only way I can see to reach you. I thought you might wonder whatever happened to Jet Black Dragonfly. I have been continually inspired by your posts (we read and love the same authors!), and you were kind to send me a message asking how I was. I disappeared for a while. In 2019, my father who lives with ALS went into hospital and I helped him for 6 months, CoVid hit and I was 1200km away from my home for a year. Then my sister passed away and I had both my fathers and my sisters house to empty. I have now sold my house and furniture to move closer to my father. There was almost 2 years where I didn’t have the mental space to even read (!) and my blog stalled. I am now ready to return to the world, have begun reading again, and hope to restart my blog. Meeting another voracious reader with my same taste is inspiring, and I always enjoy your blog. I wish you all the best and feel free to contact me directly. I have a new email (I hope I changed it correctly on your blog), and a Harry Carmichael mystery I would be happy to send you. Eden
Oh Eden, it is so good to hear from you again. It worried me when you disappeared. Sorry for all the problems that you have been facing. Hope your father has improved now that you are with him. Please give him my regards. Glad to hear that you are planning to restart your blog. Have missed your posts esp as you have pointed out we enjoy the same kind of books. You have faced some real tough times but I hope reading and blogging will help you overcome this rough patch. Warms.