On the seventh day of Bookgiving, my true love gave to me:
The Poisoned Chocolates Case. by Anthony Berkeley
Here's a real gem of a puzzle-plot mystery. Police are stymied by the lack of clues in the case of a person who died after eating from a box of poisoned chocolates that had arrived through the mail. Inspector Moresby turns for help to a group of amateur sleuths who call themselves the Crimes Circle, a discussion group for authors and others to talk about crime. The leader of the group is one of Anthony Berkeley's series detectives, mystery author Roger Sheringham. The six members of the circle agree that they will individually investigate the case over the space of a week and then report back to see if they have succeeded where the police have failed - can they discover the murderer who sent the chocolates?
Well, yes. As a matter of fact, each member of the circle manages to solve the crime. The only trouble is that each investigator presents the group with a neatly packaged solution that explains every point - only to have that solution knocked down by a revelation from the next investigator to speak. What do you get? Six respected members of society. Six intellectuals. Six amateur criminologists. And – among them – six different solutions to the same murder case. Six solutions – each, unfortunately, pointing to a different suspect. It’s a dilemma for the detectives – and a delight for the reader. As pure puzzles go, this is one of the best of the Golden Age mysteries from an author who was one of the co-founders of the prestigious Detection Club in England.
The book is available as a trade paperback from the Felony & Mayhem Press , but it doesn't seem to have an electronic edition or an audio version available. It is clever, written with wit and good humor, and it boasts a memorable closing line. Give it a try.
(If you came in late, here's what we're doing - I hope you'll join in!)