Thursday, June 16, 2016

Certain Sleep: Review

In Certain Sleep (1961) by Helen Reilly we have an uncertain case of murder where a "certain sleep" has been employed to bring about the death of Hester Lancing. Witnesses had seen the familiar yellow-scarfed head behind the wheel of her fast-running Duesenberg, so when she was found dead behind the wheel the next morning in the grounds of the Manor House Inn--smelling of alcohol and with the car backed into an earthen embankment so that the exhaust fumes had flooded the car. It looked at first glance like accident or suicide. But Inspector McKee of the New York Homicide is on hand (having come down on other police business the day before) and he immediately spots evidence that makes him think of murder.

The local man on the spot, Captain Baker, is an inefficient cop with an axe to grind and when circumstantial evidence points to Hester's husband, he's more than happy to consider Bob Lancing as suspect #1. But there are plenty of people who would have been glad to rid the small Connecticut town of the predatory, ruthless woman who taunted her easy-going husband and made life difficult for everyone around her. There was the sister-in-law who wanted to protect her brother. And her husband's spurned fiancee. There was the shady character who claimed he had only come to Connecticut to set up a trip for Hester--a trip that would end in divorce and part Bob Lancing from any hope of a share of Hester's recently inherited wealth. There are the neighbors--who don't seem to have a motive, but are acting suspicions all the same. And then there are the missing jewels. Was this a case of robbery after all? Inspector McKee, his colleague Detective Todhunter, and Lieutenant Sullivan of the State Police will get to the truth long before Captain Baker.

This is Helen Reilly's penultimate McKee book. While it is fairly entertaining, it is not her best work. The characters are fairly well-drawn and the Connecticut setting is used to full advantage. The mystery plot is serviceable, but not too complicated--if one were given all the clues. Unfortunately, McKee keeps a few things close to the chest and a vital clue isn't revealed at all--Hester is cut off well before she can drop the hint she plans to. A decent mystery, easily read in one sitting. ★★

This counts for the "Photograph" category for the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Sounds like the perfect read to take a person out of a slump.