The Duchess of Steynes believes her son Marlowe’s engagement to actress Betty Anthony is most unsuitable, and that only Dr. Constantine can do something about it. But when he meets the young woman, it is for a very different reason. Betty is extremely alarmed by the sudden disappearance of her grandfather, violinist Julius Anthony. The police seem unconcerned, so Constantine calls on Scotland Yard, in the form of his friend Detective Inspector Arkwright, to help find Anthony. Then the violinist’s body is discovered, shoved into a small room under the stage of the cinema where he had played. There is no discernible motive, and few if any clues. Who would kill a seemingly harmless old man, and why?
He Dies and Makes No Sign feels half detective story and half thriller. Beginning with a disappearance that resulted in murder, it then turns into an investigation into a dark criminal conspiracy. The investigation by Constantine into Anthony’s murder is very well done, and Thynne lays out plenty of clues for Constantine to uncover.
On the downside, once the conspiracy is revealed so is the main culprit. This occurs about two-thirds of the way through the book, and the remainder becomes a none to thrilling cat and mouse game to expose and capture him. This all went on just a bit too long, but when the ending does come, it does so in a rush and feels a little too abrupt.
Constantine makes an interesting sleuth, preferring to look at crimes as puzzles, taking them on mainly for the joy of solving them, but then struggles with the consequences of unmasking a killer. It’s interesting that in this final book Constantine is in the period of despondency, that he frequently mentions his age, and expresses weariness with the “game” of detection.
Characters provide for some highlights. Mr. Nakano, an expert in ju-jitsu who comes to Constantine’s aid more than once makes a humorous addition to the story. And the devoted manservant Manners, who can hardly conceal his delight when Constantine sends him out to track down clues. An expert at undercover work, yet always concerned that Constantine remains well-fed.
I quite like Thynne’s writing style, it’s really very entertaining. While I don’t believe this to be as strong as The Case of Sir Adam Braid or The Crime at the Noah’s Ark, it is still one that I recommend.
My Judgment – 3.75/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2011 Vintage Mystery Challenge – Book 12 of 16