An isolated farmhouse in a howling gale. What better place to find a dead body? But when John Leslie, the owner of the house, is arrested for the murder, Allen “Hatter” Fayre is persuaded to look into the case by Leslie’s intended. But what was the aristocratic Mrs Draycott doing in the farmhouse in the first place?
As the case against Leslie worsens, Fayre finally latches onto an alternative suspect, but finds his quarry an elusive one. But is Fayre on the trail of a cunning murderer, or is he looking in completely the wrong place?
I’ve discusses before what makes a Golden Age mystery. And while the basic definition is anything written between the wars, I think the average reader considers it to be something more Christie-esque than anything else. After a couple of theoretically-Golden-Age books that have been anything but classic whodunits, it was a delight to have a book with a body in the first chapter and a clear unknown murderer.
I really enjoyed this one. It’s a little talky in places, but that’s not an issue here as, again unlike my previous two reads, the characters in question feel like real people. In particular, I really liked the characters of Sir Edward Kean and his wife, with a believable happy relationship between them that really worked for me. But the characters in question completely avoid stereotype, even “Hatter”, a sleuth who is somewhat out of his depth but soldiers on. And while I guessed the murderer fairly late on in the book, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the tale.
A nice relief after a couple of duffers – this is a classic Golden Age Whodunnit and is Highly Recommended.