Seven Dead

J. Jefferson Farjeon. Poisoned Pen, $12.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0908-6
Originally published in 1939, this reissue in the British Library Crime Classics series from Farjeon (1883–1955) is a standout, with a particularly horrifying opening. Ted Lyte, a small-time thief who usually contents himself with picking pockets, enters an apparently unoccupied house near the British coast only to encounter a grotesque tableau behind a locked door. The room he enters, whose shutters are not only bolted but nailed shut, contains seven emaciated corpses, six of them male; a mantelpiece is adorned by a silver vase supporting an old cricket ball. Lyte flees the scene in terror, only to run into the police. When Inspector Kendall arrives, along with freelance reporter Thomas Hazeldean, who saw Lyte run from the house, Kendall discovers further unsettling oddities, including a crumpled note under one of the dead men bearing the message: “with apologies from the suicide club.” Kendall and Hazeldean complement each other nicely as they work toward a satisfyingly logical solution to this ingenious locked-room mystery. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/11/2017
Release date: 02/06/2018
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