Excellent Intentions

Richard Hull. Poisoned Pen, $12.95 trade paper (206p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0975-8
This droll and inventive golden age mystery, first published in 1938, from Hull (1896–1973) offers a courtroom-based whodunit with a twist. A murder defendant, unidentified for the bulk of the book, stands accused of poisoning Henry Cargate by mixing powdered potassium cyanide into his snuff while traveling on a train. As the deceased was perversely hostile to almost everybody, Scotland Yard has no shortage of suspects, including a stamp dealer whom Cargate accused of fraud, and the investigation focuses on who could have had the opportunity to introduce the poison into Cargate’s snuffbox. The court scenes, presented from the perspective of the presiding judge, the jury foreman, and the advocates for and against the accused, are artful examples of an author’s using wit as a method of diverting attention from vital clues, making the identity of the suspect a genuine surprise. This reissue exemplifies the mission of the British Library Crime Classics series in making an outstanding and original mystery accessible to a modern audience. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 10/02/2018
Genre: Fiction
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