Professor Harold Paley’s failure to answer the butler’s knocking on the door may be a reason for consternation, but why would it cause a race to the summer house by family members and guests? Professor Harold Paley is locked inside the room and once the door is broken in, he is found dead from a knife to the chest. Outside, his niece Cynthia breaks into hysterical laughter as she points to the roof. Looking up they see the flag flying above the summer house, and it is set at half mast.
I began reading this as an ebook, but as has happened a lot lately, it was so poorly edited that I gave up. But I still wanted to read it. A short internet search later and I had a hardback edition at a reasonable price. And maps! It has maps!! Sorry, but the maps really do help with this one hence my excitement.
Was it worth it? Kinda sorta. Kennedy’s Inspector Guest is one for list’s and timetables, yet they story is not weighed down in detail. The plot does very well concerning the how and why of the murder. But, unfortunately the solution to the locked room is let out of the bag fairly early on, which was a bit of a disappointment.
On the plus side—the identity of the culprit was well hidden within a group of suspects who all had significant motive and opportunity. Even with timetables and outlines Inspector Guest (and probably the reader) fails to see what is right in front of him.
Half-Mast was an enjoyable middling sort of mystery. That’s not to say Kennedy is an author I will abandon. I’d be interested to read another of his books—if I can find one—and if I can afford it!
My Judgment – 3.75/5
Previous Rulings – Martin @ Do You Write Under Your Own Name
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2013 Scattergories – #26 Size Matters
Calendar of Crime – July #8 Month-related item on cover (flag)