A special welcome today to visitors brought here by the Classics Circuit blog's Golden Age of Detective Fiction tour. For the past several weeks, they have been touring a series of participating literary blogs, learning about some of the finest mysteries and mystery writers from the Golden Age, that period from roughly the end of World War I to the end of World War II. Not surprisingly, most of the Golden Age authors whom they have met are English. Today, I'd like to recommend an American mystery writer, a woman who was one of Agatha Christie's favorite authors: Elizabeth Daly. Long out of print and hard to find, Daly's books are being reissued by the Felony & Mayhem Press.
I think one of the best Daly books to start with is one I first reviewed on the Classic Mystetries podcast a couple of years ago, Evidence of Things Seen. It's a remarkably well-written mystery. If you would like to listen to a full review, you can click here.
"Evidence of Things Seen" features Daly's series detective, Henry Gamadge. He's an expert on books and documents, which play a significant role in many of Daly's mysteries. Gamadge also has a knack for solving murder cases. This time, he has a particularly strong reason to get involved, for his wife, Clara, is in jeopardy.
With the Second World War under way, and Gamadge away on a government assignment, Clara finds herself staying at a remote cottage in the Berkshires. She is becoming increasingly frightened by the sudden appearances and disappearances of an unidentified woman, who appears on a path, at some distance from the cottage, wearing a faded dress and a sunbonnet which hides her face. Is it the ghost of the old woman who died in that cottage, who may have been murdered by her sister? Soon enough, there will be a murder - an apparently impossible crime that, it appears, must have been committed by a ghost.
But Henry Gamadge doesn't believe in murderous ghosts. And when he arrives on the scene to find his wife's sanity and honesty questioned, he goes to work to clear her name and to find out who and what is behind the events at the cottage.
This is a scrupulously fair mystery, as a great Golden Age mystery should be. The reader can follow Gamadge's investigations and reasoning. But, as with any good traditional mystery, the reader is likely to be led astray by some expert misdirection, and the writing is wonderful. Amazon.com quotes a New York Times review as saying "Ingenious ...most readers will be completely fooled." Agreed.
I'll be reviewing another of Daly's books next Monday - "The Book of the Dead," which is finally back in print. Meanwhile, if you are new to this site, welcome! If you enjoy traditional mysteries, or if you want to learn more about them, please take a few minutes to look around here - you'll find reviews of books that I hope will intrigue you. Your comments are more than welcome. You'll find a new review here every Monday.