Barney Roberts is a twelve year old boy with twin obsessions. He desperately wants to find the mother who abandoned him when he was young, and he is fascinated with a series of local murders – the murders of young boys just like him, their bodies washed up by the Thames. He has a special talent for spotting patterns – but when he starts to uncover the truth, he discovers something too horrible to believe.
Lacey Flint wants nothing to do with this case or any other. After the traumas suffered in Cambridge, she has withdrawn from her few friends. But as the police make no progress, Lacey finds herself drawn into the case – a case that seems to be all about blood, something that Lacey knows far too much about…
Meet Rosco Polycrates, an ex-cop and current private investigator, hired to look into the unexpected death of crossword compiler Thompson C Briephs. The official word is that he died during some… um, strenuous exercise with a young lady of ill-repute, but when his secretary is attacked and his final crosswords for the newspaper vanish into thin air, suspicions begin to form.
Meet Annabelle Graham, the crossword editor for a rival newspaper who Rosco goes to for information. Solving Brieph’s Monday crossword leads to a suspicion that Briephs left clues identifying his murderer within his crosswords – it becomes imperative that the remaining puzzles are to be located before the killer comes across them first or things will go down-hill fast.
Well, that’s another month out of the way – September 2014 has swept past us. September always seems to be a short month for me, as the first month of the school year always keeps me busy. Being laid low by a cold didn’t help matters on the teaching front, but it did help me hit a respectable reading target for the month, which included one of my most controversial reviews in more ways than one – just read through the comments section…
But which of the seven books have been awarded the prestigious award of the Is Search Of The Classic Mystery Novel Book Of The Month – aka the Puzzly for September 2014?
DI Wesley Peterson is at a dinner party hosted by his sister, a local doctor. When her associate, Dr James Dalcott, doesn’t show up, no-one suspects the truth – that he has been shot dead in his home. While Dalcott seems to be a perfect local doctor, he has at least one dark secret in his past – one that may well have led to his death.
At nearby Tailors Court, a number of bodies are unearthed, showing signs of dissection. Not Wesley’s problem, it seems, as they date back centuries, but when a child’s body is discovered alongside a coin from the 1930s, it appears that there is a case to be investigated concerning a missing evacuee to the area. With the same marks on the bones as the older bodies, it seems that the Flesh Tailor may have inspired an heir. An heir that may well have links to the death of James Dalcott…
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?
Egypt in the 1930s, the Nile cruise boat Karnak. Newlyweds Simon and Linnet Doyle are honeymooning on the boat, but are being stalked by Simon’s ex-girlfriend Jacqueline De Bellefort, who is determined to extract some measure of justice for being passed over for Linnet. But there are other passengers who hold a grudge against Linnet – money, it seems, can attract many enemies.
Hercule Poirot is trying to have a holiday, but finds himself drawn into trying to resolve the love triangle. But when an unsuccessful attempt is made on Linnet’s life, followed by a successful one, it seems as if the holiday is over…
The Bloxham Hotel, London. Three bodies are found in three separate rooms, laid out almost ceremonially. When the bodies are examined, a cufflink with the initials PJI is found inserted into each of their mouths.
Across town, in a coffee shop, a scared young woman confides in a stranger that she is scared that someone is going to kill her. She pleads that when she is dead, her killer is not to be looked for. And, “please let no one open their mouths”. And then she vanishes into the night. But her cry for the lack of investigation is going to fall on deaf ears. For a start, her confidante share his lodgings with is Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. And, more importantly, his name is Hercule Poirot. You may have heard of him…