Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nothing Can Rescue Me: Review

Nothing Can Rescue Me by Elizabeth Daly....the title is oh so right. Nothing can rescue Sylvanus Hutter from the brutal blow dealt to him by an unseen hand wielding a Chinese bronze statue. Nothing can rescue his sister Florence Hutter Mason from the poison planted in her iron pills. Not even having Henry Gamadge on the spot and prepared for something malicious to happen.....

Sylvanus approaches Gamadge at their club and asks him to come with him to Underhill, the Hutter family's country estate for the weekend. Florence has gathered her friends and family there in an effort to get away from the pressures of World War II--which seem so much more evident in New York City than in the country. She thinks she's surrounded by friendly souls, but after trying to contact the spirits using a Ouija board, she's not so sure. Someone has been typing ominous messages in the manuscript of the novel she has been working on. It begins with a mischievous message, but they gradually become more threatening. Gamadge is quite sure that there is more than spooky fun and games going on.

He is very quickly proved right when Sylvanus is found bludgeoned by the the proverbial blunt instrument. One of the guests still points to a spectral hand--after all Sylvanus was killed in a dark room while playing at Ouija himself. Gamadge is on the look-out for a human agent with a perhaps more mercenary motive, and he makes every effort to protect Florence from harm. The killer is very cunning, though and, despite Gamadge's attempt to prevent another murder, Florence falls victim as well.

But who could have wished Sylvanus and Florence dead? Of course, there is the Hutter family fortune and the inheritance of Underhill at stake....but with Florence changing her will on a regular basis, could anyone have been sure that the inheritance would fall where they wanted it to? Did Tim Mason, Florence's philandering husband, believe that he stood to inherit? Or perhaps Susie Burt, his current interest, counted on him inheriting and helped things along? Then there's Florence's secretary, Evelyn Wing, who, unlike her predecessors, has managed to stay in the position for four years. Did she hope that her devotion would be sufficiently compensated for in the most recent will? And what about Sally Deedes--did she hope for an inheritance big enough to bring her former husband back? There are too many possible motives with not enough certainty for Gamadge's taste. It will take another attempt at murder before he can give the police enough evidence to arrest the culprit.

Daly, who is said to be Agatha Christie's favorite mystery writer, weaves an interesting mystery with plenty of suspicion to go around. There are several false clues and it a good, solid, workable mystery. Not her most outstanding work, but certainly no dud. And Henry Gamadge, her dashing bibliophile amateur detective is always a treat. Three and a half stars.

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