Ludovic Travers and John Franklin are amongst the houseguests who find themselves snowbound at Little Levington Hall, the home of Martin Braishe, after a New Year’s fancy dress party. The next morning brings an unexpected guest, a schoolmaster named Crashaw, who stumbled on the house after his car is trapped in the snow and the guests find they have been burgled. Watches and money are missing, most importantly, a siphon containing lethal gas has been taken from Braishe’s safe. Trying to call the police is out because the phone is missing and the phone lines cut. The worst is yet to come when two other guests are found dead. Mirabel Quest is found stabbed to death in her bedroom and the contorted body of Denis Fewne is found in a pagoda on the grounds. Franklin sets out to alert the police, leaving Travers “to keep an eye on things”, and do as much detecting as he can.
With a plot consisting of two murders, a plethora of suspects, and as the house is cut off from the outside world, one of them must be the murderer, Bush has constructed a complex and very entertaining puzzle. He does very well diverting the reader’s attention by throwing in a number of red herrings and subplots, including shady servants, blackmail, and an unfinished manuscript, which Travers uses in a unique way as part of his investigation. The solution to the murders is so amazingly simple…if you remember all of the little clues that Bush throws out.
This is the first in the series where Travers is able to use his amateur detective skills fully. In the three previous books, the majority of the detecting, and the story had involved Franklin. Here Franklin is absent, until his return with the police in the form of Scotland Yard Superintendent Wharton, by which time Travers has gone a considerable way towards solving both murders. I must say I enjoyed seeing Travers as the lead detective, and his interactions with Wharton as well (I was never team Franklin anyway).
Quite an enjoyable read, and one that I highly recommend.
My Judgment – 4.25/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – Vintage Mystery Challenge 2018: Just the Facts, Ma’am – When: During a Weather Event
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Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – January #4: New Year’s