A house party turns a millionaire’s hacienda hideaway into a crime scene in this classic detective novel from an Edgar Award–winning Grand Master.
If actual wealthy people died at the rate that they do in murder mystery novels, we would be down to one Kardashian. My bet is on the short scrappy one.
Ellery is a writer maybe? Gentleman playboy? Private Eye? Not sure, don’t care. It’s summer in New York and Queen and his buddy, retired Judge McClain (I kept picturing Bruce Willis from Die Hard despite the oft described frail nature of the Judge) are vacationing along the Eastern Seaboard when they stumble into a botched kidnapping, murder and blackmail. Because of course they do.
I started off thinking that this book was rather derivative, until I did a little googling and realized that while the authors were inspired by Doyle, they in turn had been praised by the Queen herself, Agatha Christie, as an inspiration for her writing. No fresh ideas apparently.
Anyway back to the plot, there are speedboats, naked corpses, partially charred letters, important plot points overhead by people lurking in the bushes. This book hits all the tropes while still managing to be a bit of a mystery. I figured out the murderer pretty early on, but there was enough character development to make me doubt my call until the very end. Right before they gather everyone together during a terrible storm for the dramatic reveal, the writers break the fourth wall to tell the reader that all the clues have been dropped and the reader should be able to guess the mystery. This might irritate some people, but I kind of liked it. It was a promise to the reader that they weren’t going to pull some cheap bait and switch and have it be some last minute macguffin that renders the whole mystery moot.
Reading this book is like drinking a nice cup of hot chocolate with the little marshmallows (and more than a touch of brandy) while cozying up in a window seat during a rainstorm on a day you called in sick. I will definitely read more of these and see if I can’t hunt down some of the old black and white tv show episodes from the 1970s.