The murder of a society glamour girl at a charity fundraiser in New York City is the mystery at the heart of "Our Second Murder," by Torrey Chanslor. It's the subject of this week's review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review here.
As you can probably guess from the title, "Our Second Murder" is the second book to feature the detective skills of the Beagle Sisters, two women who inherited their late brother's private detective agency. That makes them professionals, I suppose - odd, when you consider that sister Lutie Beagle learned her trade by reading thrillers borrowed from the public library. She and her older sister, and their cousin Marthy, who acts as their Watson, find themselves confronted with what seems to be an impossible murder - the death of a young woman found strangled with a million-dollar necklace, one of the items on display at that charity fundraiser.
The book dates from 1941. It's fairly clued, fast and funny. And there's another mystery - the mystery of its author. Torrey Chanslor, or Marjorie Torrey Chanslor, was primarily a book illustrator, nominated in 1946 and again in 1947 for a Caldecott Medal for her illustrations for children's books. She wrote two mysteries - "Our First Murder" and "Our Second Murder," worked on a few other projects, but then pretty well dropped out of the public eye. I can't find a death date for her or any indication what might have happened to her after the mid-1950s. Fortunately, the Rue Morgue Press has republished these first mysteries, which are, as the publishers say, a mix of early cozy-style with private eye investigation, "filled with clues, timetables, a crime scene drawing, and more than a few red herrings." The books certainly are a lot of fun to read.