Captain Charles Rathlyn lost his “last button” when his horse, Silver King, lost the Royal Cup to Kate Waygold’s Ballynaceach. Kate’s offer to buy Silver Eagle was a stroke of luck; her invitation to become her racing manager was a windfall, and becoming her husband an added bonus. While Rathlyn is by no means in love, he believes that he will be content with a woman he likes, as he does Kate. All seems happy contentment, until Rathlyn takes a fall from his horse. That fall awakens Kate’s history of sleepwalking, and Rathyln’s awareness of young Anne Faery. Then one night Kate falls over a bannister to to her death. Was she sleepwalking, as Rathlyn contends, or was she pushed?
This is the third book by Henry Wade which I’ve read. The others, The Duke of York’s Steps (1929) and The Hanging Captain (1932), were written early in his career. A Dying Fall may be the last but one of the books he wrote, but even this late in his career Wade delivers.
It has a deceptively slow start in which Wade develops his characters and lays the groundwork for what becomes quite a suspenseful story. The story is cleverly plotted, presenting the reader with a death that could have been accident, suicide, or murder, and an obvious suspect—Rathlyn. With vindictive employees, potential blackmail, and another death, Wade injects enough red herrings to have the reader questioning what actually happened, and who is responsible.
Wade’s outline of the investigation, and the differing opinions of the police regarding the death, give this an authentic feel. The conflicted relationship between Superintendent Hant and Chief Constable Netterly is particularly well done, as Wade continually places them at odds with one another with their differing styles.
I thought this was a winner, from beginning to enigmatic last line.
My Judgment – 4.25/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2013 Scattergories – #12 Murderous Methods