When John Norris reviewed Harriet Rutland's debut mystery, Knock, Murdererr, Knock! back in March, I commented that I'd just bagged a copy of the book, and hoped to review it myself. It's taken me six months to get round to so doing, but then, I have a lot of books that have waited for me to attend to them for much longer than that. The TBR pile continues to grow remorselessly. Never mind, plenty to look forward to! And Rutland's novel, my Forgotten Book for today,should not be forgotten for much longer.
The first thing to say is that this is a witty and well-constructed book, an accomplished piece of work which I enjoyed from start to finish. The setting is a Hydro in a resort on the south coast that caters for a variety of invalids. The main activity of the residents is gossiping, a habit which is integral to the plot, as well as providing plenty of comic moments.
When an attractive, and rather mysterious, young woman called Miss Blake arrives at the Hydro, she soon becomes very popular with the men, and correspondingly unpopular with the victim. Seasoned whodunit readers will suspect she is a victim in the making, and they will be right. Inspector Palk,a cop with very definite but often mistaken ideas, soon makes an arrest, but then a second murder occurs...
This is a fair play, closed circle mystery with a sizeable cast of characters. Because Rutland is very generous with her clues, I identified both culprit and motive about half way through the story (and as regards one of the murders, there really wasn't any other likely culprit or motive.) This element of guessability didn't spoil my pleasure, however. John mentioned in his blog that the book is very rare, and I was lucky to get hold of a copy. But happily, Dean Street Press will be republishing Rutland's books soon - an example of the good news for Golden Age fans which is coming thick and fast at present. And I expect to be bringing further good news before long!.