Saturday, April 29, 2017

Who Is the Next?: Review

Who Is the Next? (1931) by Henry Kitchell Webster is a country house mystery set on the outskirts of Chicago. Old Mr. Lindstrom who owns the lavish estate summons Prentiss ("Pete") Murray, his legal counsel and his granddaughter's guardian, to discuss "something very serious" (according to Miss Parsons, the secretary who relays the message). From things that Camilla, Lindstrom's granddaughter, has told him, Murray suspects that it means the old gentleman has succumbed to the wiles of said secretary and plans to marry her. It's also possible that her grandfather wants to change his will again--especially if he's found out that she bought that airplane that he was so opposed to.

But none of this is what's on Lindstrom's mind at all. He believes that Miss Parsons has been snooping in his desk's secret drawer. The only items of importance were a letter from his grandson saying he was finally coming home for a visit (or possibly to stay, he's not quite clear on that topic)....and the combination to the safe where Lindstrom keeps $25,000 in cash. Lindstrom wants to prosecute her for breaking into the desk--but Murray says there's no proof and the most Lindstrom can do is give her notice and change his combination.

The next morning, Lindstrom is found shot in the head and Miss Parsons is missing. So, naturally, the police suspect that she's responsible for the murder. But that theory goes to pieces when she is found shot as well and the $25,000 is missing from the safe. Soon, Camilla's brother Eric arrives, a mysterious man is seen wandering the grounds, and an old friend of Eric's also shows up. The chauffeur's young daughter has been keeping her eyes open and is full of information for Murray and the police--including an identification of the mysterious man. He looked just like Eric! If Eric hadn't been verified as a passenger on that train, he'd be a suspect as well. Camilla's flying skills and the journey of the sleeper train her brother arrived on both play an important role in solving the mystery.

This is a fairly well done mystery plot from the Golden Age. A bit predictable perhaps for those of us who read these things by shelf-fulls, but entertaining. The sub-plot of aviation and romance (between Camilla and Pete) is diverting without being distracting. The characters are decent--with the chauffeur's daughter Ruth stealing scenes whenever she appears.

[finished on 4/24/17]
This fulfills the "Plane" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.


Yvette said...

This sounds like a lot of fun, Bev. And lately, that's about what I'm looking for in my reading material. No heavy-duty angst for me - I get enough of that just reading the papers.
I've never heard of this author, but that's no surprise.
I'll look around for a copy. Thanks for the intro.

Bev Hankins said...

Good luck finding it, Yvette! It took me a few years having it on my TBF (To Be Found) list before I found it a Library book sale.