Death Of A Frightened Editor (1959) by E & M A Radford

Alexis Mortenson was the editor and proprietor of Society Magazine – which, admittedly, seems to the late-fifties version of Hello magazine, but it seems to be popular enough. As per usual, he was one of the group of passengers who regularly shared the same first-class coach on the 5:20 Victoria to London coach. In the middle of the journey, nobody seems to notice him leave the main room.

When he is found dead in the toilet, locked from the inside, it seems to be an impossible situation – he has died from strychnine poisoning, which kills within fifteen minutes, only he had not eaten or drunk anything – indeed, no one had even approached him – for over an hour. How was he poisoned? And who wanted him dead?

After reprinting three Radford mysteries last year – Murder Jigsaw, Murder Isn’t Cricket and the excellent Who Killed Dick Whittington? – those nice folks at Dean Street Press are releasing three more in March 2020, namely The Heel of Achilles, Death Of A Frightened Editor and Death And The Professor. The Radford mysteries, featuring Inspector Manson, are mysteries with a scientific bent – Manson is, oddly enough, a Detective Inspector and a forensic scientist.

This is a cracking read, probably my favourite of the reprinted Radfords that I’ve read. It’s a clever mystery, with a closed circle of varied suspects, with an impossible crime that, while having something of a scientific solution, has a method that is well within the realms of being guessable without too much scientific knowledge.

I’d go into a little more detail but I did read this over a month ago, so to find out more, you’ll just have to read it yourself. It’ll be out in paperback and ebook on March 2 2020.


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