There are six people who want Andre De Ravenac dead. A blackmailer and quite possibly a serial killer, the six men all have little compunction about committing the deed. But with a group of six, there is always the chance that one of them might be a weak link and all six would be punished for the crime. So an elegant solution is devised.
De Ravenac will be killed at a masked ball – in honour of His Excellency, the President of San Jonquilo – but the murderous group will draw lots for the roles they will play in the murderous scheme. When De Ravenac is found stabbed to death, Anthony Bathurst is called in to help discover the truth. But with every possibly murderer covering for every other one, how is he expected to find the killer?
Just a quick one, as I’ll be writing more on this one later this week – but you won’t be able to read it until later this year, when The Orange Axe is one of the ten titles that Dean Street Press is re-releasing, along with introductions by me. It’s also one of the first ten that is next to impossible to find, as the first eight books were released in the US along with a UK release – this was the first not to be. My copy is the only one that I’ve ever seen for sale – well, at least for the next five or so months.
It gets a mention in Sutherland Scott’s Blood In Their Ink as a strong title for Flynn – he rates The Mystery Of The Peacock’s Eye (October) top but mentions this and The Padded Door (not October – sorry). My gut feeling is that these might be the only Flynn books that he read, as I don’t think this is quite as strong as some of the others. There’s only one reason for it – it really needs a map of the building occurs in.
Well, maybe not for you, but I had to concentrate to figure out exactly who was where, or supposed to be where, during the murder. Once I had it figured out, it was plain sailing, but given how… well, easy Flynn’s books are to follow (apart from the horse racing syndicate stuff from The Five Red Fingers) this sort of took me by surprise.
But regardless, this is a clever mystery, taking the situation of having a lottery for roles in a murder (not something I’ve seen before) and then doing something clever with it. And while you may spot part of the game Flynn is playing here, and rest assured, the writer is playing a game with you, I doubt you’ll spot all of it.
So, definitely worth your time – yes, obviously I would say that, but I do mean it. Otherwise I went to a lot of effort to help get a bunch of books reprinted just to wind you all up…
Just The Facts, Ma’am: WHAT: A colour in the title
Availability: Soon… just wait a bit longer…