The case began with an anonymous phone call from a public telephone to the police, insisting there had been a murder at Cobblers, an estate belonging to Lord Rone and Saine. It sounded like a prank phone call, but the police, in the person of Scotland Yard Commander Bobby Owen, thought it would be wise to check anyway.
Then a second call was received - this time from a woman, calling from the same public telephone box not far from Cobblers. She had just discovered a wicked-looking, and bloodstained, golden dagger in the phone booth.
So maybe something really was going on at Cobblers? The police dutifully trooped out there - to find only bland and rather indignant denials that anyone had been murdered, even though that dagger did come from Lord Rone's collection.
That's the opening of a fine mystery called "The Golden Dagger," by E. R. Punshon, another of those authors whose name is virtually unknown today. For once, that link doesn't go to Amazon - I can't find the book on Amazon - but links instead directly to the book's page on the website of Ramble House, which has brought this post-Golden Age mystery back into print. "The Golden Dagger" is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review by clicking here.
So here are the police, with a bloody dagger, and - they are assured - no murder. Someone missing? Why yes, now that you mention it...two people in fact. And much of the book will be spent trying to figure out exactly what did happen, and to whom, that night in and around Cobblers. Oh, and there's another clue: an expensive hat. It may have belonged to the murderer. If, in fact, there is a murderer...
Yes, it's a delightful, trickly little puzzle mystery, filled with distinctive and memorable characters. And, yes, all that blood on the dagger must have come from somewhere. Check out that page at Ramble House for information about how to get a copy; it's probably also available in an e-book format for six bucks, and it's great fun.