A Much Expected Murder

“A Much Expected Murder” by Gail Ingram, from Tales of Fatima

Basil Rathbone, yes the Basil Rathbone who played Sherlock Holmes in many movies, is getting ready after a performance when he and his secretary Lavender are warned by a brute of a man with a gun to “leave Mrs. Dawson’s case alone”.

As Rathbone is not involved with any case, he agrees. After the man leaves he receives a phone call from a Mrs. Dawson in need of help.

Hmm…

Rathbone meets with the woman who asks for his assistance as her husband has something bothering him and she can’t tell what it is. Rathbone goes to speak to the man, and discovers that he is convinced that his wife is murdering him. She had a young chemist help her with a poison that was undetectable and killed her first husband, and now she is killing him. But how does he know she murdered her first husband? Why he was the chemist.

The brute returns and attacks Rathbone for reneging his promise. Rathbone then goes to see his detective friend and he discovers that Mrs. Dawsonn never had a first husband. Then what is going on?

Wen they return to the house they discover they are too late, Mr. Dawson is dead.

Hmm…

And then to complicate things, the brute is there at the house! He is the doctor and an old friend of Mrs. Dawson, in fact her old lover.

He tells Rathbbone that Mr. Dawson told him his suspicions about poison and they are pretending he is dead to catch the killer. They made up a story of the first husband as to distract Rathbone. As they are in the house they stumble upon Mr. Dawson. They try to talk to him but he is dead-throat cut.

WHAT!

They call the police and try to figure out who did the deed? Mrs. Dawson for the money? The Doctor for Mrs. Dawson? Mr. Dawson’s crazy sister who constantly speaks of death?

Thoughts After Reading:

Great story. Loved it! And Basil Rathbone amazing!!!

For more short stories, go to The Old Plantation

For more on a husband’s murder, go to Death by Honeymoon

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The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Happy Birthday Agatha Christie!

Today is 128th birthday of Agatha Christie and in her honor we have:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1) by Agatha Christie

I love Agatha Christie’s books. I’ve read almost every single one, but I have never done it in order. I have always wanted to-and will be and be posting on here after I have read them.

My love for Agatha Christie’s book all began when my nana found out I loved mysteries. She gave me a book that held three of her novels in one binding-The Seven Dials Mystery, Crooked House, and Ordeal by Innocence. After that I was hooked and bought/devoured any of her books I could find in thrift stores-taking home as many as I was able to.

Anyways, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was the first of Agatha Christie’s books published under her own name and the first of her mysteries. And it all started with a harmless “bet” between her sister Madge. Madge said that Agatha wouldn’t be able to write a good but she showed her.

Boom

It is the middle of WWII-rationing, moving from city to country, refugees, etc. Colonel Hastings, our narrator and Hercule Poirot’s best friend, starts off the novel in the flavor of Mr. Watson-a recount of the event, the murder, and the “mysterious affair” at Styles.

It all started when he ran into his good friend, John Cavendish. John invites him to join him and the family at Styles. At Styles, is John and his wife Mary-the country squire and wife, the younger brother Lawrence-studied to be a doctor but instead pursued literary ambitions with no success; and Cynthia-a young girl from poor family who is taken in by charity and works as a nurse.

Mrs. Cavendish married John and Lawrence’s father after their mother died, raising them as her own. When Mr. Cavendish died she inherited all the money until her death, which it then reverts home to John, the eldest, and money to Lawrence. She enjoyed the role as Mrs. Cavendish-and controlling the boys with how much money she doles out.

“Mrs. Cavendish, however, was a lady who liked to make her own plans, and expected other people to fall in with them, and in this case she certainly had the whip hand, namely: the purse strings.”

Well, there we go. A petri dish of tension just building for murder.

But to Colonel Hastings surprise, Mrs. Cavendish remarried! Her nurse Evelyn “Evie” Howard had a cousin visit-one Evie did not care for, and her helped Mrs. Cavendish with her many projects. The two fell in love and wed, now Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Inglethorpe.

No one likes Alfred Inglethorpe, Mrs. Cavendish-er Inglethorpe’s new husband. They all see him as a gold digger, but she won’t listen to anyone.

Colonel Hasting doesn’t see why anyone would be attracted to Alfred Inglethorpe. He looks more like a caricature rather than a real person.

“I looked with some curiosity at ‘Alfred darling’. He certainly struck an alien note…It was one of the longest and blackest [beards] I have ever seen. He wore gold-rimmed pince-nez, and had a curious impassivity of feature. It struck me that he might look natural on a stage, but was strangely out of place in real life. His voice was rather deep  and unctuous.”

Hmm…

Evie and Mrs Inglethorpe fight when Evie speaks out against Alfred. Mrs. Inglethorpe sends her packing and as she leaves, her last words were that someone was going to kill Mrs Inglethorpe and implores Colonel Hastings to watch out for her.

Then comes the fateful day. Everyone seems a bit off, excitement and tension in the air. They have a great luncheon, where everyone takes part in a tableaux and shows how they are fantastic actors.

They then visit Cynthia at work, have tea with her, and take a look at the dispensary and the poisons.

On the way back they stop at the post office as Colonel Hastings needs stamps and who should be there but Hercule Poirot! Hstings old friend and former leader of the Belgian police. And the greatest detective!

There is a fight that night between Alfred and Mrs Inglethorpe. After dinner, they have coffee or cocoa and then Alfred goes out to see a friend.

Hmm…

That night the tragedy was struck.

That night Colonel Hasting is awaken by Lawrence. John and the maid Dorcas are also awake and trying to get in Mrs Inglehorpr’s room as it is bolted. They can tell something is wrong and are trying to help her.

They go through Alfred’s room, and Hastings notices that there is no sign of him having been there that night-the bed not mussed everything. They get in and try to help her but are unable to. Her last words:

“Alfred-Alfred-“

They believe that she is poisoned. Everyone is a bit shocked and at a loss of what to do, so Colonel Hastings suggests bringing in Poirot.

Hastings tells Poirot all he can remember of what he knows that has happened in the past few days. They then look over Mrs. Inglethorpe’s room and the house.

Poirot finds six interesting things that will lead them to the killer.

  1. A coffee cup that as has been ground into powder.
  2. A despatch case with a key in the lock.
  3. A stain on the floor.
  4. Fragment of some dark green fabric-only a thread or two, but recognizable.
  5. A large splash of candle grease on the floor by the writing table.
  6. And the sixth he keeps to himself.

Poirot also discovers that Mrs. Inglethorpe wrote a new will:

Everything points to Alfred, but when he goes on trial-Poirot brings information that sets him free-free from being formally charged.

How could Poirot do that? And if it isn;t Alfred? Then who is it?

You’ll just have to read to find out.

Thoughts After Reading:

It was amazing as all her work is. Every time I read I am captured into the book and just astounded at how well she crafts a tale.

For more Agatha Christiego to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more gold diggers, go to A Case of Identity

For more death by poisons, go to Death by Darjeeling

For more mysteries that take place during World War II, go to The Butterfly and the Violin

Death by Darjeeling

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Death by Darjeeling (A Tea Shop Mystery #1) by Laura Childs

Thoughts Before Reading:

I came upon the book Steeped in Evil at the library and decided to check it out. After I had started it, I realized it was part of a series and of course you know what that means. We have to go back and start this mystery series from the beginning.

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Former advertising executive, now owner of a tea shop, Theodosia “Theo” Brown is busy with preparations for the Lamplighter Tour, a walking tour into the best homes and gardens of Charleston.

Theo has two shop employees Drayton Conneley, tea expert, perfect blenderer, and her right hand man; along with Haley, perennial college student, baker, and waitress; and Earl Gray, rescued mutt.

A wrench is thrown in the works when businessman Hughes Barron who is attempting to buy out historical homes and raze them for other means is murdered during the tour.

And not just murdered, poisoned! And Theo’s newly blended lamplighter mix is the vehicle the murderer choose.

Theo finds the investigation honing in on her, only to switch to Haley’s best friend Bethany as she was seen in a heated argument with the deceased, and was the one to serve him tea. Theo sets out to clear Bethany’s name and her tea; finding out that Barron is rife with enemies; from environmentalists to spurned ladies, to crooked business partners, it seems like everyone had a reason to kill him.

And Theo must watch out, she’s just been warned by the killer, back off or else she’s next.

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Thoughts After Reading:

It wasn’t very good.

I hate it

It spent a lot of time developing the characters and their many backstories, but very little time on the actual mystery. And the ending reveal was abominable.

For more mysteries featuring poison, go to The Sign of the Four

For more on tea, go to Aunt Neal’s Old-Fashioned Tea Cakes

For more Southern mysteries, go to Crazy, VA

For more mystery reviews, go to A Case of Identity

A Study in Scarlet

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A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Thoughts Before Reading:

For those of you who don’t know, this month marks the 128th anniversary of this book. Published in July of 1888, these characters have found a way into all our hearts.

So Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite literary detectives.

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I’ve read almost all his stories, seen countless films and TV shows, and just all around enjoy his character. His massive intellect and keen observational skills are just so admirable, I can’t resist him.

So A Study in Scarlet is the first novel to have this brilliant detective. Many assume it is based on Edgar Allen Poe’s detective character that came out year’s before, Charles Dupin, but Doyle insisted that it was based on one of his professors.

So while the novel is split into two parts, in my opinion it is actually divided into three.

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Part I: Mr. Sherlock Holmes

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In this we are introduced to Dr. Watson. Shortly after he received his medical degree he was attached to the military as their assistant surgeon. He was sent off to India, where he was wounded and sent to a hospital. There he had even worse luck, catching a fever and becoming severely ill.

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After that he was sent home, honorable discharge, where he decided to move to London. Staying in a hotel he quickly burned through his money and found himself in need of cheaper lodgings.

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He runs into an old friend who tells him of an acquaintance that is also looking for a roommate, a Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

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We are first introduced to Sherlock Holmes doing an experiment in which he has found a way to prove how old blood is and whether a stain is blood or not. He also knows that Dr. Watson has recently returned from Afghanistan.

wow

Sherlock tells him about the rooms and when Dr. Watson and he look over the place and hear the rent price they find it most agreeable.

wantyouyes

Sherlock Holmes is not a difficult way to live with.  He is quiet, had his own habits he stays firmly by, has extensive energy when interested in something, but would have moments when he was hit by a “mood” and wouldn’t get up for months. Watson notices at times he looks like he is under a drug (opium) but Watson cannot believe such a man devoted to cleanliness could do such a thing.

notbelievingyouyeahright

Sherlock knows nothing of contemporary events or anything that he feels does not relate to his studies. In fact Watson lists of everything he does and doesn’t know:

  1. Knowledge of Literature — Nil.
  2. Knowledge of Philosophy — Nil.
  3. Knowledge of Astronomy — Nil.
  4. Knowledge of Politics — Feeble
  5. Knowledge of Botany — Variable. Mostly poisons, nothing of practical gardening.
  6. Knowledge of Geology — Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance the different soils from each other.
  7. Knowledge of Chemistry — Profound.
  8. Knowledge of Anatomy — Accurate, but unsystematic.
  9. Knowledge of Sensation Literature — Immense. Knows every detail of ever horror perpetuated in the century.
  10. Plays the violin well.
  11. Is an excellent singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
  12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

Sherlock is also a keen observer and tells Watson how he knew of his time in Afghanistan. He also shares about how he often helps the police solve crimes. And at that very moment, a Marine comes with a note that Sherlock is wanted.

Interesting

Interesting

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Part II: The Lauriston Garden Mystery

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Sherlock receives a note from Detective Gregson to come to Lauriston Gardens as they are at a loss to how the crime was committed and by who?

WhoDoneIt?

Sherlock invites Watson to come along, and the duo are off. When they arrive on the scene, Sherlock surprises Watson as he doesn’t rush inside the house to search it, but spends a long time looking at everything, from the ground, to the sky, to the house’s outside, etc.  He notices that a cab has been there. but neither Gregson or Detective Lestrade or their men know anything about that.

suspicious Hmm

The victim is about 43 or 44. He is dressed well in a heavy broadcloth frock coat and waistcoat. . His hands were clenched and arms thrown abroad while his lower limbs were interlocked as though he went through a struggling death. A look of hatred on his face and blood everywhere, but no wound on the corpse. A woman’s wedding ring is also found, along with the word “RACHE” painted on the wall.

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The detectives believe the word to have been Rachel but cut off. Sherlock points out that the murderer was male, over six feet high, smoked a trichinopoly cigar, had a florid face, long fingernails on the right hand, killed the man by poison, and that rache is German for revenge.

Whoa

The two them head down to the first officer on the scene, John Rance. They learn from him that there was a drunk there that night, but they just sent him off. Sherlock berates the man as this drunk was clearly the murderer, a cabdriver which explains the cab marks left behind.

You let him get away!

You let him get away!

Sherlock sends out advertisements in the newspapers about a found wedding ring knowing that by using it, it will be the perfect bait for the trap.

Meanwhile, the detectives have discovered that their victim was acting ungentlemanly toward his landlady’s daughter. Her brother was on shore leave, and is known for a temper. They know the two got into it and to make it worse, just like in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, they discovered the brother with a bloody walking stick.

Not-Good

Sherlock of course doesn’t believe that and is set on his way. To his surprise, he is approached by a woman saying it belongs to her daughter. Sherlock follows her, but looses her in the crowd. Is Sherlock wrong?

thenannygasp

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Part III: The Country of Saints

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Here we get our killer’s backstory and reasons for poisoning these people. Back in Utah, John Ferriar’s wagons traveling west have been destroyed and everyone is dead except for him and a young girl, Lucy. With all gone, John adopts the young girl.

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As they are dying of thirst, they come upon some Mormons who allow them to join their group and save them from death. Over ten years layer, John’s farm has prospered and Lucy has grown into a fine, beautiful woman. All the young Mormon men want to add her to their families and John’s land to their own. But both John and Lucy don’t want to become ingrained with the Mormons, in fact Lucy falls for Jefferson Hope, silver miner and son of John Ferriar’s old friend.

love

With the Mormons threatening the group, Hope and Ferriars hatch a plan to escape.

gotthis

However, the plain is foiled and Hope is left stranded in the desert. When he gets back to the area he discovers that both Ferriar and Lucy have died.

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He decides to avenge their death and tracks them down all the way to England to kill them.

avenged

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Thoughts After Reading:

I really loved the first two parts of the novel when we are introduced to Sherlock and his investigation.

loveitSupernatural

Amazingly well written and a definite winner.

fantastic

However, I didn’t really care for the Utah backstory. It was boring.

NO emotion = BORING!

The book would be better without it, but even with it it is still good.

likeit

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For more on classics, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more private investigators, go to Decked