Thursday, January 7, 2016

Murder at Arroways: Review

Murder at Arroways (1950) by Helen Reilly is the eighteenth book in her Inspector McKee series. Like many of the later books, McKee doesn't show up until the book is well over half finished. However, I liked this one much more than Compartment K (where he doesn't appear until the end). Arroways is full of suspense and atmosphere and I like Damien Carey (our heroine) quite a lot. But--I get a bit ahead of myself.

Damien Carey is the estranged granddaughter of Maria Mont, iron-willed matriarch of the Mont family. When her daughter made an ill-advised marriage, Maria wrote her and her granddaughter off. But when the old lady dies, it is discovered that Grandfather Mont had willed the family estate to Maria for her lifetime and then to his granddaughter when Maria passed on. The family lawyer calls upon Damien to come to Arroways and claim her inheritance and that's when things get interesting and Damien wonders what sort of family she's come back to.

The first to die is Anne Giles, the production manager of Mont Fabrics--formerly Maria's right-hand woman and spy. Did Anne know something dangerous? Or did someone want her out of the Mont family business? When the prime suspect in Anne's murder winds up dead as well and then an attack is made on Anne's cousin, the police have to wonder what kind of killing spree they have on their hands. 

Inspector McKee gets involved when there are threads to follow up in New York City and his friend, the local prosecutor asks for his assistance down at Arroways. But will he be in time to save Damien and others from the killer's traps?

The pacing of the novel is nearly pitch-perfect and the suspense is also carried off very well. Classic mystery fans will be a bit disappointed in the clueing--or lack thereof. It would be difficult to identify the culprit strictly by clues in the story. One might have ideas that point in the right direction, but they would be more intuitive than deductive. Still, it is a fine story and well-told. ★★ and 3/4.

Since this is one those lovely Dell Mapback editions, this fulfills the "Map/Chart" category for the Vintage Gold Scavenger Hunt card. This is also my second entry in Rich's January 2016 Crimes of Century feature. Got any 1950 mysteries on tap this month? Come join us!

 I thought I might also get to use it for the "3 or more murders with different weapons" category in the Mystery Reporter's Challenge--but the victim who was slugged  with a blunt object didn't die. I'll have to decide if I want to use it for the "strangulation" or "shot" category.....

1 comment:

fredamans said...

With that many books in the series, there must be something to them worth checking out. :-)