The police seemed to be baffled by the peculiar robbery...followed by a murder...at the Chacewater family's country estate at Ravensthorpe. The chief constable, Sir Clinton Driffield, tried to make some sense of it by applying a bit of poetic doggerel that asked seven questions:
What was the crime, who did it, when was it done, and where,
How done and with what motive, who in the deed did share?
Answer those questions, Sir Clinton told Inspector Armadale, and you'll be a long way closer to solving the perplexing case that is the subject of Tragedy at Ravensthorpe, by J.J. Connington. Originally published in 1927, it has been out of print for many years, but it is now available again in an electronic edition from Orion publishers. Tragedy at Ravensthorpe is the subject of this week's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review by clicking here.
The story begins with a robbery - or robberies, perhaps - at Ravensthorpe, which takes place in the middle of a fancy-dress ball at the beautiful country house. The burglar is not only seen, he is pursued by many of the guests, all wearing outlandish and detailed costumes. The burglar disappears near a disused quarry on the estate grounds - a splash is heard - but there is no sign of the burglar and no apparent way he could have escaped. Before the situation is explained, there will be a murder as well and another disappearance - and that significant splash will prove critical to understanding the case.
It's a very good mystery and an enjoyable read - one of those Golden Age "country house" mysteries the British authors did so well. The explanation of the burglar's disappearance is likely to delight fans of the "impossible crime" mystery, being both fair and rather unusual. All in all, it's another book worthy of space on your shelves (or at least bytes on your e-book reader).
As part of my continuing commitment to the Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge under way at the My Reader's Block blog, I am submitting this to cover the Bingo square calling for one mystery that involves water. (Yes, that splash is certainly significant.) For details about the challenge, and what I'm doing for it, please click here.