‘The Lemesurier Inheritance’ (1923) by Agatha Christie
Christie’s (and Hercule Poirot’s) take on The Hound of the Baskervilles. Like the Sherlock Holmes case, this short story concerns a family curse preventing certain heirs to a baronetcy from living to assume the title. Of course, the solution is different – and more psychologically interesting – and it ends with a very cheeky joke. Highly recommended.
Herewith the Clues! (1939) by Dennis Wheatley and J.G. Links
The fourth and final Links/Wheatley crime dossier is extremely dull and boring. See my reviews of Murder Off Miami and Who Killed Robert Prentice? for overviews of the format and more successful examples. However, it is fund to see photos of Wheatley and his friends, including many peers and famous writers, posing a scallywags of various ilks.
The Crocodile Bird (1993) by Ruth Rendell
In this breathtaking novel, young Liza Beck has lived her whole life cloistered away with her mother, Eve, who is intensely attached to their home. When Eve is arrested for murder, Liza goes to live with her secret boyfriend, their gardener, and tells him, Scheherazade-style, stories of Eve’s many crimes. Unable to see her mother, who has killed several men, as a monster, Liza is able to view with fresh eyes the horrors of patriarchy and the brainwashing that comes, not from a sequestered life, but from a mainstream one. This is Rendell at her misanthropic best.
Unsolved Case Files: Banks, Jamie (2019)
A wonderfully thoughtful birthday present from Alan, who has many times been forced to hear all about how much I enjoyed the Usborne Mystery Files as a child. This is a similar thing: pieces of evidence presented as a cold case, which you work through to solve. We both enjoyed it thoroughly. Of course it’s very easy to crack, and the storytelling isn’t exactly stellar – but I assume it’s aimed at children, families, or drunk people house-partying. We loved going through newspaper clippings, photographs, and transcripts with a magnifying glass. Perhaps it’s just as well we didn’t discover this series during lockdown – nothing else would have got done!
Five Strangers (2021) by E.V. Adamson
There is a strong Patricia Highsmith influence in Andrew Wilson’s first psychological thriller written as E.V. Adamson. We follow Jen, a likeable but oblivious young professional with an unnaturally attentive best friend, who witnesses a murder-suicide in central London. As she starts to appear more and more paranoid, and we learn more about her past, the secrets behind the deaths she witnessed emerge.