Eleven Came Back (1943) by Mabel Seeley

Martha and Dane Chapple have built up their radio station for the last few years, but now need to make a desperate effort to save it. Their chief investor is on the verge to selling to the notorious Delphine Huddleston, who is determined to use the station for her own opportunistic ends. A house party in Wyoming is their last chance to talk him out of it, but the hostess of the party is Delphine herself.

The party of twelve take a trip up the mountain on horseback that night, but… well, the title kind of gives it away. All of the party have a reason for killing Delphine, but she is not the one to die. Well, at least she’s not the first to die. For when the party return to the house, it rapidly becomes clear that the killer’s work is far from over…

This has been sitting on my shelf for a good while now – I bought it when I got a few others from a seller and it was going cheap over a year ago. It’s been perched on my shelf since then, and I’ve never really taken a good look at it.

So I was rather pleased to discover that it was a first edition with dustjacket (I did spot the dustjacket) and it had this rather fascinating little magazine in it. I presume the other Crime Club Selection (Doubleday, not Collins) also contained this insert, but it ties in directly to this title. It’s a little spoilery on highlighting important things, but it’s rather interesting, so I thought I’d reproduce it all here for your edification.

Right, read all that? So what about the book itself? Well, it’s the sixth of eight books written by Seeley – she wrote six between 1939 to 1943 and then two more, one in 1950 and one in 1954. It’s very readable, but feels a lot more like a thriller than a clued whodunit. At the end of the day, it all hinges on who was in a missing photograph, and until the photo is discovered, it could have been one of about five people in the picture. And there’s a fake-out ending as well, which apart from being a bit ridiculous, could just as easily be the real ending.

There’s a deliberate sense of rising panic in the tale, but it does veer into the near-histrionic at times – the focus is on Martha, so when suspicion falls on Dane, things do get a bit over the top.

So, interesting rather than being particularly good. So if you see a cheap copy, why not give it a go?

Just The Facts, Ma’am: WHY – Because “Simon” says

And let me leave you with the back of the dustjacket, as I rather like it…

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