John Foss is a young man running away from London at the end of a failed love affair when he injures his foot jumping off the train at a small station. Guests bound for the house of Lord Aveling take him to the doctor’s house only to find that the doctor is away treating Mrs. Morris, Lord Aveling’s mother-in-law. Nadine Leveridge, a beautiful widow, insists on bringing John along to Lord Aveling’s, the unwitting thirteenth guest at a house party.
Lord Aveling’s guests feature a cricket player, an actress, a member of Parliament, a society painter, a gossip columnist, and a novelist, but there are also some more unusual guests, a vulgar sausage king and his family and a shady couple, the Chaters. Some odd things happen almost immediately. Someone throws paint on Leicester Pratt’s painting of Lord Aveling’s daughter Anne, and an odd confrontation takes place between Zena Wilding, the actress, and a strange man at the train station. Mr. Chater seems to be around sticking his nose into everything.
After John’s foot is treated, he is parked on a sofa in an anteroom. Late that night, he hears a dog barking outside, several exchanges in the hallway, and some glass breaking. The next morning it is obvious that someone broke out of the studio that Pratt locked after he discovered his ruined painting, and the dog has been stabbed to death. Later, the strange man from the station is discovered dead at the bottom of a nearby quarry.
Of course, when Detective-Inspector Kendall arrives, he finds that many of the house’s inhabitants have something to hide. And the man no one seems to know is not the only one to die.
Although this Golden Age mystery involves time tables, the solution is fairly straightforward but hard to guess. Agatha Christie was a great admirer of Farjeon, who I think gives a good sense of his characters, enough to help me distinguish one from the other when there were so many of them.