by Moray Dalton
Publication Date: March 1, 2019
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Dean Street Press
Together they looked down at the inert sprawling figure of a man fantastically dressed in red-and-white-striped pyjama trousers, with a red sash belt and a white silk shirt open at the neck.
A Christmas gathering of young and old in a great country house in England—a masquerade—and the lights are turned off for a game of hide and seek. Silence—then a man’s cry for “Lights!” The lights come on, revealing Hugh Darrow, blind since the War, standing in the main hall, fresh blood dripping from his hands and covering his white Pierrot costume. He tells the story of having discovered a dead man, stabbed through the heart, lying in a curtained window embrasure next to the one in which he was hiding. The murdered man proves to be Stallard, one of the visitors, and a writer of mystery tales. There follows a thrilling tale in which the life of an innocent man hangs in the balance. A grand and baffling tale for the mystery lover.
After a rocky start, with a choppy narrative that was very difficult to fall into, the book evened out about 1/3 of the way in and once PI Glide showed up, I found it very difficult to put the book down until I’d finished it. I can’t say it’s because I liked Glide – I really didn’t care for him one way or the other, but the I got caught up in the events and the fast pace, of the story, and I warmed to Mrs. Clare. I generally don’t like courtroom dramas, but this one kept a nice edge of tension going; even though I felt confident about the murderer, I had no idea how Glide was going to pull off the proof of it.
I got 2 out of 3 of the murders correct, but I totally missed the Diane prediction I made – or more accurately, I was right, but with entirely the wrong person. I’m laughing to myself because that critical scene towards the end over tea – I knew how that was going to turn out because I’d seen the same thing done way back in the 80’s on, of all things, the soap opera General Hospital. But the scene at the zoo? I didn’t see that coming, and it was a delightful little twist to the story. My biggest complaint about the story is the fate of Sergeant Lane – I dislike being made to like someone only to have them ripped away.
I won’t say no to more Dalton, but I’m not sure I’d make a concentrated effort to get me hands on more of them.