Jeanie Halliday, an artist, has purchased her dream cottage, just down the road from her childhood friend Agnes Molyneux. But things aren’t what exactly she hoped for – Agnes isn’t how she remembered her being and the rest of the locals are a varied bunch. Her primary friend is a young girl, but even she has issues with her estranged mother. And someone shot her kitten!
But soon there’s another murder. Agnes’ husband is found in the orchard – he has fallen from a tree with a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead with nobody near him. With a number of potential suspects all in a position to shoot him but with no witnesses, Jeanie finds herself turning detective to find the killer. But will she find the killer before the killer decides that she needs to be dealt with?
Ianthe Jerrold’s two detective novels featuring John Christmas, The Studio Crime and Dead Man’s Quarry were rediscovered and republished by Dean St Press last year and, it seemed, that was that. Jerrold had, apparently, only written two mysteries before turning her hand to other branches of fiction. So where did this one come from?
Well it seems that she wrote two more, under the pseudonym Geraldine Bridgman, and now Dean St Press has released these as well – this one and There May Be Danger, coming soon to a blog near you. The first two books have received a lot of good attention from my fellow bloggers (and me, although I’m possibly the only person who preferred The Studio Crime) so what about this one?
Well, I think it may be the best of the three so far. Jeanie is an engaging lead and the various characters that populate the cast of suspects are nicely distinctive, something that is not always the case in some Golden Age mysteries. Suspicion bounces around from character to character and while not every suspects gets as much page time as the others, but it’s a satisfying puzzle.
Admittedly, it’s not the hardest mystery to puzzle out – the how is the tricky bit, but the motive pointed me straight to the murderer. Maybe I’ve read too many mysteries (no, not really) but there’s one particular motive that I tend to spot and this is exactly that. Very hard to explain, both what I’m talking about and why I spot it, but that’s the case, anyway.
So, another triumph from Dean St Press – as I said, the next (and last, I presume) will be along soon. In the meantime, this is Highly Recommended.