It’s a two-fer – an English country manor weekend mystery and a locked room mystery. But it’s anything but conventional.
Alan Ravenswood, who serves as the story’s narrator, is spending a long weekend at Freyne Abbey, the home of his cousin and her husband, Catherine and Simon Chandos. Catherine is as beautiful as Simon is ugly. But Simon is known as a sterling character and a true friend. Also visiting are Simon’s niece Rosemary, her current love interest and a journalist who wants to be her love interest, and the man long rumored to be in love with Catherine and in serious debt to her husband. In the background, and sometimes the foreground, hovers Simon’s secretary, a woman who adds her own barbed comments into what is already an explosive scene.
It's a perfect recipe for murder. And that’s what happens. Simon is found dead in his study, stabbed in the hand with an overdose of morphine. The room is locked from the inside; a key is required to open or lock the door, and the only key is in the dead man’s pocket. It’s made to look like suicide, but the killer made a mistake or two, and murder will out.
Catherine’s paramour is arrested, although Catherine claims he spent the night with her and stands steadfastly by her man. It’s looking increasingly grim for the man charged with murder.
|Lucy Beatrice Malleson, aka Anthony Gilbert|
But this is a story where appearances are not only deceiving; the deceptions themselves are also deceiving. The mystery must be unraveled layer by layer.
The Tragedy at Freyne by British mystery writer Anthony Gilbert (1899-1973) was first published in 1927, and it’s a double-genre story that turns into a suspense thriller, as the protagonists race against time. It was the first mystery published by Lucy Beatrice Malleson under the Anthony Gilbert pen name, and it was be followed by more than 60 other Gilbert novels.
Malleson was enormously prolific. She first published poetry, then turned to mysteries. In addition to the Anthony Gilbert stories, she published under the pen names of J, Kilmeny Keith, and Anne Meredith. She also wrote a wealth of short stories and radio plays. Surprisingly, given the quality of her novels like The Tragedy at Freyne, she was never a bestselling writer during her lifetime. In the past few years, interest in her work has revived with the publication of several of her novels by British Library Crime Classics.
Some Thursday Readings
Who Cheered You On Throughout Your Writing Journey? – Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach.
God Made These Texas Summers – Roy Peterson at Society of Classical Poets.
N.C. Wyeth painting purchased at a thrift shop for $4 could sell for $250,000 at auction – Carlie Porterfield at The Art Newspaper.
Les Miserables. The American Civil War, and Violent Revolution – David Dixon at Emerging Civil War.
The Age of Shakespeare – Stephen Klugewicz at The Imaginative Conservative.