The Horror At Wardens Hall (1948) by Charles Wogan aka Brian Flynn

Sebastian Stole, the detective who could have been a king if he hadn’t fled Calorania with his mother during a violent uprising, is summoned by his friend Gordon Pascoe to Wardens Hall. In the middle of the night, Pascoe was alarmed when, after being disturbed by a noise, he found that the room of his secretary, Ellsworth Spencer, was empty. Spencer was nowhere to be found, but he reappeared the next morning, with no mention of where he had been. But how had he left the house given that all of the doors had been locked from the inside?

Stole’s suspicions that something is up are confirmed when Spencer vanishes once again, this time never to re-appear. It seems that murder may be on the cards, but with no body to be found, how can Stole even begin to investigate?

The second of three books written by Brian Flynn under the pseudonym of Charles Wogan – the first being The Hangman’s Hands – and, I’ll be honest, it’s not the best demonstration of the writer’s work. There are several innocent explanations for the first disappearance that makes Pascoe seems almost psychic that something is up within his household, with Stole seeming just as prescient.

Once murder is confirmed, things do pick up, with a good solid whodunit. Flynn had a habit of introducing a macguffin almost from nowhere towards the end of the tale – armchair sleuths should assume that there is something the villains are after, but shouldn’t bother trying to work out what it is – and the murder method is a bit nasty (although seems to work a little quicker than it should). But the murderer, despite Stole’s explanations, could have been one of a few characters – Flynn did choose the one that made the most sense though.

So, on the off-chance you can find a copy of this one – there doesn’t seem to be any out there on the internet – well, don’t break the bank for this one. It’s entertaining enough, and I wish my busy schedule had meant that I had time to read it in larger chunks than I did, which I think meant I would have enjoyed it more.

On the other hand, there are ten titles from Brian Flynn coming back into print in only two weeks time! You could always read those instead…

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