Murder of Lydia by Joan A. Cowdroy (1933)

By all accounts Lydia Torrington was one of the two strongest swimmers in the seaside town of Whitesands, the other being her younger sister Rosalind. According to local gossip, the sisters also have a very stormy relationship. Lydia has taken more than one man away from Rosiland, and now appears to be after her fiancé. Rosiland is quite well known for her explosive nature and murderous temper. So when one early morning, the drowned body of Lydia is found, and all the evidence makes it clear this was no accident, Rosiland is the obvious suspect.

In the meantime, Mr. Li Moh is not enjoying his holiday by the seaside at Whitesands. In order to avoid bad food and slovenly in-laws, it has become his custom to sit on the shore each morning. It is he, along with young police constable James Bond, who discovers Lydia’s body. Moh had also been witness to several incidences involving the sisters. So, when Scotland Yard is called in, in the form of his friend Chief Inspector Gorham, Mr. Moh is already embroiled in a case involving jealousy, rage, and secrets long held.

First the quibble, there being only one, but it is significant. This is titled “A Mr. Moh Mystery”, and as Kate, of Cross Examining Crime, also observed in her review, there is nowhere near enough of Mr. Moh in this story. Once Inspector Gorham arrives on the scene Mr. Moh is pushed into the background. Even when he does subsequently appear, he is almost a non-entity. The first portion of the story shows that Mr. Moh is a character who sees and catalogs everything around him, and I believe that having he and Gorham work together would have significantly enhanced the story. 

Now for the good. Moh and Gorham are excellent protagonists, whether together or apart. The plot is well done and makes for a very good police procedural, in which Gorham and his team must work hard to get to the truth. Cowdroy delivers some excellent background involving the sisters’ personalities, their pasts, and their relationships, which provide potential motives and suspects. She then lays out a number of clues, as well as red herrings, by which the reader may discern the identity of the murderer. 

I truly enjoyed this book and found it to be an entertaining read. I will definitely be reading Death Has No Tongue, the one other title in the series that Dean Street Press has reprinted, and hope to see more reprinted in the future.

My Judgment – 4/5

Previous Rulings – Kate @ Cross Examining Crime, Nick @ The Grandest Game in the World

Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge – Fulfills #5 of the Commandments/Rules/Common Devices: No Chinaman must figure in the story. (Knox) Any book that features someone of Asian heritage in a prominent way–culprit, suspect, victim, witness, detective.

Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – July #3: Primary action takes place in this month

Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge – Weapons: Drowning, Crime Scene: Lake or Ocean

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