Thursday, August 31, 2017

Every Second Thursday: Review

When the neurotic Vera Foster is found dead from a drug overdose with a picture of her beloved father (now deceased) under one hand and the last postcard he ever sent her under the other, it is assumed she has committed suicide while in a depressed state after a bout of sciatica. She had attempted suicide once before--immediately after her father's death--and it doesn't seem strange that she's tried again and succeeded.

The police investigation reveals no reason to suspect foul play. Vera's husband Gerald is polite and industrious--he worked his way up from the working class and turned his father-in-law's business into a very successful enterprise. There are no whispers of infidelity or strained relations. The doctor's evidence supports a verdict of suicide and the inquest finds that perfectly acceptable. Everybody, including Chief Inspector Kelsey, agrees that it's a very sad thing, but understandable from a woman such as Vera. Kelsey leaves the inquest ready to put the case behind him...until he observes a brief glance between Gerald Foster and the temporary companion-nurse Edith Jordan. An exchanged half-smile, a tiny nod from her, and a small gesture of success from him--it's all over in a flash and then they're back to calm and dignified composure. But once he sees it, Kelsey tells his Sergeant wasn't suicide. I'll take my dying oath on that. they pulled it off between them. Foster and Edith Jordan. It was murder.

And he sets off to prove it. He'll have a devil of a time with it. The case is closed. He has no official sanction to ask anyone questions. But he and Sergeant Lambert squeeze in the time around their other cases to investigate. Kelsey soon realizes that there were a lot of questions that weren't asked simply because it looked so obviously like suicide. Kesley and Lambert slowly build a case only to find it falling apart in their hands...until a chance encounter breaks things wide open.

An entertaining read. Not a classic whodunnit--we know who the culprits are from the beginning, but the real suspense lies in watching Kelsey and Lambert try to prove what the Inspector knows to be true. It looks for all the world like the Foster and Jordan have put together the perfect little murder and the officers have their work cut out for them to find any connections (previous to the nurse/companion being hired). There's no love interest, no breath of scandal to connect the two. Emma Page (pen name for British author Honoria O’Mahony Tirbutt) has put together an interesting character study of not only the villains, but the investigating officers and the supporting characters. ★★

[Finished on 8/20/17]

This fulfills the "Picture" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

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