cover image Eight Faces at Three

Eight Faces at Three

Craig Rice. Penzler, $25.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-61316-219-4

Chicago attorney John J. Malone debuts in this sharp blend of humor and fair-play from Rice (1908–1957), first published in 1939. When Holly Inglehart awakes in the middle of the night from a disturbing dream of being hanged, she sees her bedside clock has stopped at 3 o’clock, “although she’s sure it’s actually much later.” When she checks the room of her twin, Glen, it’s empty, but Glen’s clock, too, stopped working at 3 a.m., as has the hallway clock. In the room of her elderly aunt, Alex, Holly finds Alex in a chair by an open window, frozen stiff, with a knife sticking out of her chest. Sure enough, Alex’s clock has also stopped running—at 3 a.m. Holly’s fingerprints on the murder weapon and a possible motive—the dead woman’s threat to disinherit Holly should she wed—make her the prime suspect. Holly has just secretly married, and her husband’s assistant reaches out to the astute, disheveled Malone to clear her name. Amusing prose is a plus (“His ties and collars never became really close friends, often not even acquaintances”). This is another reissue worthy of being designated an American Mystery Classic. (Aug.)