Review 1699: Two-Way Murder

The night of the Hunt Ball is a foggy one indeed. Nick Brent gives visitor Ian Macbane a lift to the dance. On the way home, though, he has a far different companion, Dilys Maine, a beautiful young woman whose strict father did not give her permission to go to the ball. In the fog, the car nearly runs over something huddled in the road. When Nick finds it is a body, he urges Dilys to run home by herself so she won’t have to give evidence.

Nick can’t turn around or back all the way down the narrow lane, so he goes to the nearest farmhouse to call the police, that of Michael Reeve. Finding no one home, he breaks in through a pantry window to make the call. However, someone comes in and attacks him.

Things don’t look good for Reeve. An older constable identifies the body as his brother Norman, who left ten years ago, but Reeve denies it is him. The body was almost certainly driven over by Reeve’s car, but Reeve says he often parks it on the verge with the keys in. His family having past run-ins with the police, he’s not inclined to cooperate.

But Inspector Waring of the C. I. D. thinks things are more complex than they look. He believes they center around Dilys Maine and the rivals for her affection.

The Introduction to this novel informs us that this is the first time it has been in print, the unpublished manuscript having been part of the author’s estate. That makes it a real prize for the British Library Crime Classics series. The Introduction further comments that for many years E. C. R. Lorac’s novels were only available to collectors. I’m enjoying them very much and am glad they are being republished.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and fair review.

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Review 1389: Murder in the Mill-Race

Murder in the Mill-Race is apparently E. C. R. Lorac’s 36th Chief Inspector Macdonald mystery, which means I have pleasure in store if only I can find others. I reported recently that I’d gotten up the nerve to request books from several publishing companies, and Poisoned Pen Press immediately sent me four books from their British Library Crime Classics. This was one of them.

When Anne Ferens, the new doctor’s wife, first meets “Sister” Monica, the warden of the children’s home in Milham in the Moor, she is taken aback by the dichotomy between the Sister’s reputation as a saint and her freakish appearance. What’s worse, Anne fears that the children are being terrorized by her. She soon learns the woman has a poison tongue, starting rumors by denying her belief in the scandal she’s trying to suggest.

Then Sister Monica’s body is found in the mill-race. The village is quick to assume the death was an accident. But Sergeant Peel is still bothered by the death a year before of Nancy Bilton, a resident of the home who was found dead in the same place. Peel finds the village just as closed as it was before. No one knows or saw anything. So, the authorities call in Chief Inspector Macdonald and Inspector Reeves. They soon ascertain that the death was no accident.

I enjoyed this mystery very much. It pays more attention to character than many of the books in this series, and the characters are believable. The mystery is not one of the over-complicated ones of the period. I guessed the identity of the killer but did not guess the motive except in general. The Ferens are a charming couple, and I liked the two detectives. This novel is a good choice for this series.

I received this book from the publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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