Death in Fancy Dress

Anthony Gilbert. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-4642-1225-3
In this standout entry in the British Library Crime Classics series from Gilbert (a pseudonym of Lucy Malleson, 1899–1973), first published in 1933, lawyer Tony Keith and his friend Jeremy Freyne travel to Feltham Abbey at the request of the Home Office, which is unsettled by a baffling rash of suicides of people who had either money or “rank and position.” That each of the dead raised large sums of money for various unstated purposes leads officials to believe that a sophisticated blackmailer known as the Spider was responsible for the suicides. Hilary Feltham, the fiancée of a Foreign Office employee, is believed to be the Spider’s next target, and Keith and Freyne hope their presence at Feltham Abbey will avert disaster. A murder occurs, despite their best efforts. The ingenious story line is enhanced by ample doses of wit (of Freyne, Keith states, “when you heard of some white man with the reputation of a lunatic, doing anything particularly futile in some obscure British protectorate, you could bet your boots Jeremy wasn’t far off”). Gilbert neatly combines Wodehousian humor with a fair play puzzle. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/24/2020
Release date: 04/14/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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