Dick Markham seems to have it all. In Lesley Grant, he has a beautiful fiancée who he faces a long and happy life with. An encounter with a fortune teller at the Six Ashes village fete soon puts paid to that. After Lesley has an upsetting encounter with the seer, he tries to tell Dick the truth about his wife-to-be – only for Lesley to shoot him through the side of the tent.
Luckily, the fortune teller – actually Sir Harvey Gilman, the Home Office Pathologist – survives and tells Dick what he knows about Lesley. She has been married twice and engaged once, and each time her husband/fiancé killed themselves. Oddly, each of them injected themselves with prussic acid inside a securely locked room – a remarkable coincidence. It seems Lesley has a foolproof method of murder, one that Sir Harvey will soon have first-hand experience of. But a revelation soon turns everything on its head. Is Lesley truly a murderer? And if not, who killed Sir Harvey – and how?
Yes, that’s exactly the same description I wrote when I reviewed this book seven years ago, and nothing has changed. It is still my absolutely favourite John Dickson Carr novel. It’s a lovely set-up with a intriguing plot with several strands to keep you guessing, along with a clever locked room.
And, as I’ve said over and over before, Carr was a master of hiding the killer, and this is one of his finest examples. The killer is perfectly clued and is still a genuine surprise.
Oh, I said nothing has changed. One thing has – the British Library Crime Classics range has re-released this piece of genius for everyone to read. So what are you waiting for? (Apart for Amazon to get it back in stock, but there are other ways to buy books…)