Death of My Aunt by C. H. B. Kitchins (1929)
Summoned by his wealthy Aunt Catherine to her home for a consultation on her finances, young stockbroker Malcolm Warren anticipates a benefit for his business. But during their interview he delivers a fatal dose of poison to her, unintentionally of course, and becomes a suspect in her death.
Malcolm’s take on the amateur detective is really quite interesting. Not having access to all of the clues as the police do, he decides to deduce his way to a solution with timelines, lists, and setting himself up as a victim. The plot is clever, and while the characterizations were sparse, there are scenes—Malcolm interactions with Aunt Catherine and the police inspector—that make up for it. And Kitchen’s dry wit adds immensely to the story. The solution is clever, but depends on the reader’s knowledge regarding uses of the poison in question. I’m fortunate (?) that my background gave me a foot up on this one.
A very entertaining read.
My Judgment – 4/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2013 Scattergories #5 Jolly Old England
Calendar of Crime – September #6 Original publication month
Death in Room Five by George Bellairs (1955)
Inspector Littlejohn and his wife head to the French Rivera for a restful vacation. However, the peaceful vacation doesn’t last long. When one of a party of British tourists is stabbed to death in the street Littlejohn finds himself drawn into a murder investigation. Alderman Dawson may seem respectable pillar of the community in Bolchester. But Littlejonn soon finds that Dawson has a complicated history, one involving time spent during the war with the French Resistance, and some potentially shady affairs back in Bolchester. It all adds a to no shortage of those who had reasons to dislike Dawson, or who benefited from his death.
The characters, as in all of Bellairs books, are very well done. His portrait of the stereotypical British traveler abroad after the war, French police, and French underworld types are done with a great deal of dry humor. The differing styles of the English versus the French police was quite interesting and gave this quite a different feel from stories set in England. While I think Bellairs may have missed out by ruling out one motive early on, all-in-all I found this to be a fairly satisfying mystery.
My Judgment – 3.75/5
Prior Rulings – Rekha @ The Book Decoder
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2014 Bingo Read one book with a number in the title
Calendar of Crime – August #9 Summer holiday setting (beach, resort, etc)