Lesley Grant insisted on seeing the fortune teller at the Six Ashes village fair. While she’s inside the tent, her fiancé Dick Markham learns that “The Great Swami” is actually Sir Harvey Gilman, well-known Home Office pathologist and crime expert, who happens to be staying in the village. When Lesley emerges she is visibly upset, and Dick storms in, trying to find out just what the man has said to her. But before Gilman can reveal anything, he is accidentally shot and wounded, by Lesley herself.
Later that night, Sir Harvey insists on seeing Dick, then tells him that Lesley is not the sweet young girl she appears to be. She is in fact a 41 year-old woman named Jordan, and a poisoner who has killed three men, and gotten away with it. Two husbands and one fiancé—all found dead, in locked rooms, and each has injected themselves with hydrocyanic acid. He believes Dick may be next, and asks for his help in catching her. But in the early hours of the morning Sir Harvey dies, in a locked room, from a seemingly self-administered injection of hydrocyanic acid. And Dick is left wondering whether Lesley can be trusted, or is a threat to his life.
I started reading Till Death Do Us Part somewhere around 8PM, and finished around midnight (my Penguin edition is only 205 pages). It was just an outright page turner. Every time told myself to put it down, Carr would end a chapter with a cliffhanger, or there would be some revelation that I just had to see through to the end!
From the outset it was so wonderfully atmospheric, without the Gothic overtones of old.
…the shadow of the storm gave everything a nightmarish and unreal quality, like sunlight through smoked glass.”
And filled with warnings of what was to come…
The sign of the human hand was agitated, grotesquely as though it were beckoning to them or waving them away.”
Carr plants suspicion everywhere. Every character must be looked at as a suspect, and every incident evaluated for it’s motive. But, as soon as you get a grip on things, and think you understand what’s happening, Carr flips the script on you. But the changes are never jarring. One scene flows seamlessly into the next. The twists continue, and tension is heightened as Carr keeps the mystery going—right up until the very second the culprit is revealed. I never saw it coming!
Carr continues to amaze me, and has truly become my favorite author—of any genre, in any era.
My Judgment – 5/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2013 Scattergories – #22 Repeat Offenders (Favorite author)
Calendar of Crime – August #6 Original publication month (August 23, 1944)