The Chacewater’s are holding a masked ball at their country home, Ravensthorpe. Family friend, and Chief Constable of the county, Sir Clinton Driffield’s concern that a thief could mingle undetected goes unheeded—except by Cecil Chacewater. Cecil and his friends arrange a practical joke. At a set time Ravensthorpe will be plunged into darkness and a counterfeit burglary will occur. But the plan goes badly astray, resulting in theft, family secrets revealed, and murder.
Connington has created an ingenious puzzle that involves robbery, disappearances—apparently into thin air, and several murders. Sir Clinton investigates, with the assistance of Inspector Armadale. Interestingly, while Sir Clinton decides that they should share all the facts of the case, they are to keep their deductions to themselves so as not to color the conclusions of the other. In that way the ready is in receipt of all the clues and has the opportunity to work it out for themselves.
My quibbles are few. Connington’s attempt to weave a psychological facet into the story with the inclusion of a family curse, and it’s affect on one member, does little to enhance the story. And just the fact that the words “secret passage” are uttered makes any of the disappearances far from impossible. But I will say though, that the explanation specific to one “disappearance” is very effective and none that I would never have guessed.
A very good mystery and an enjoyable read.
My Judgment – 3.75/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – Vintage Themes 2012 – Cherchez l’Homme: Book 5 of 8 with male detectives
Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – October #9: Costume/disguise or mistaken identity