An apparent bloodstain appears, then vanishes, in a haunted house. That report from a psychic researcher was enough to make Deputy Chief Constable Bobby Owen, of the Wychshire police, a little nervous. He decided it would be wise to accompany that researcher to the house, a large - and unoccupied - country mansion. And he didn't much care for the atmosphere he found there:
"He felt very certain that something, though what he had no idea, was going on in this vast deserted building where opportunities for concealment were endless. He supposed, moodily, that those of whom they had neither knowledge nor warning might well be watching, waiting. The silence, the stillness all around took on a sinister, menacing aspect, as if expectant and eager for evil things known to be at hand. Something of the same feeling the others must have had, too, for they all went warily along that dark and silent corridor, like men doubtful and on guard."
That description of the setting gives you a good taste of the kind of atmosphere the author, E.R. Punshon, is able to conjure up for There's a Reason for Everything. The 1945 book, the 21st in Punshon's series featuring police official Bobby Owen, is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the complete review by clicking here.
What Bobby Owen found in that supposedly haunted mansion called Nonpareil, of course, was a dead body – and that was only the first in a series of remarkably odd occurrences that involved other murders, sets of twins, a number of rival art dealers, several assaults, and a very secretive but extremely intense search for a rumored painting by the great Dutch artist Vermeer that could be worth a fortune – IF it existed and IF it were ever found. There were plenty of clues, plenty of suspects, and a great many questions to be answered. And Bobby Owen will find himself the target of a very determined killer.
It’s another fine show of force from E.R. Punshon. This new edition of There’s a Reason for Everything comes from Dean Street Press, which provided me with an e-book copy for this review. It includes a new introduction by mystery historian Curtis Evans, who calls the book “a pleasingly intricate and wryly amusing account of murder and art.” It is all of that, and I recommend it to you.