Another Forgotten Book today from one of my favourite maestros of the Golden Age. First published in 1944, Till Death Do Us Part is a very well-regarded novel by John Dickson Carr, and I'm not about to dissent from the reviewers' chorus of approval. The setting is an English country village (there is even a cricket match, as well as a village fete), nicely evoked by this most Anglophile of American writers, and the detecting is done by Carr's premier sleuth, Dr Gideon Fell.
Richard Markham is, at the start of the story, blissfully happy. He's just become engaged to be married to the delightful, if rather mysterious, Lesley Grant. But in a crime novel, every silver lining has a cloud, and unfortunately one of the star attractions at the village fete is a fortune teller. Dick learns that the fortune teller is Sir Harvey Gilman, a famous criminologist, and before long he is being told something rather terrible - Lesley Grant is not the woman she appears to be.
Dick Markham learns that Lesley has been associated with three poisonings; in each case the victim was the man in her life. There was never any evidence to establish her guilt of murder, but the coincidence is appalling. Dick is not, however, destined for an early grave. In fact, it is the fortune teller who meets an unnatural end - poisoned in exactly the same way as Lesley's three supposed victims.
The plot twists and turns very nicely. One of the characters, Major Price, was evidently based on Carr's chum, the author John Rhode (who was also the model for Colonel March in another set of Carr stories). I thought I had solved the puzzle, but Carr bamboozled me - very satisfying in a fair play whodunit in the classic mould. This is an ingenious and highly enjoyable story, with a very pleasing solution and a brisk narrative pace. It's one of Carr's best books, I think.