Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Gloved Hand: Review

In The Gloved Hand (1947) by Leigh Bryson (pen name of Nancy Rutledge) Gena Zonn and Julian Burdick have decided to get married. Julian's sister, Ruth, is a little apprehensive--after all she's never met the girl and what she's heard about her doesn't calm her sisterly fears. But when the couple hosts a cocktail party to celebrate the happy event and Ruth meets Gena for the first time, she thinks: They're really in love. Julian loves her and she loves him. Maybe it will be all right.

What she doesn't understand is the extreme reaction she receives from Gena when she tries to give her a family heirloom. It is their mother's ring (one of a pair that had belonged to their grandmother and her twin sister) and Ruth wants her brother's bride to have it. But the sight of the ring terrifies Gena.

She pushed the ring from her with a swift gesture that sent it to the floor. She stared at Ruth in horror. "Not you!" she whispered. "Not you!"

Ruth can't imagine what she means. Ruth is further confounded when making her way around the room she finds a bundle of cash hidden in a potted plant. Maff Peroni, a cop who is also a life-long friend of Gena's, thinks he's found a blackmailer.

Maff is at the party at Gena's request. A blackmailer has gotten hold of letters written by various of her previous lovers--very prominent men who will pay what it takes to keep scandal out of the papers. An elaborate system whereby the blackmailer manages to keep him/herself hidden while showing a gloved hand with an antique ring to signal that a payment must be made--a ring very like the one Ruth tried to give Gena. The ring is the signal for Gena to perform specific actions that alerts the blackmail victim to put the money in place. When Ruth picks up the bundle of cash from the rubber plant, it looks like he's found the culprit. But further questioning of Ruth and the events that follow put her guilt in question. And when Gena is killed, Maff becomes convinced that Ruth's brother is behind it all. Ruth is determined to prove him wrong.

The Gloved Hand is the only novel written under the Leigh Bryson pseudonym. She published about twelve novels (two only in England) under her own name. Hand is cleverly plotted and provides several culprits and red herrings to keep the reader busy. Maff is bull-dog cop, portrayed as less clever than his boss--but appearances can be deceiving. He doesn't miss much and his doggedness helps him stick to the scent even after his superior officer is satisfied that the case is closed. Ruth is also an appealing character--she begins as a typical "old maid" (in her 30s) with her younger sister amused to find her at a cocktail party. She discovers a taste for adventure as the story progresses...even going in disguise at one point in an effort to clear her brother's name. Very entertaining fare. ★★ and a half.

[Finished on 9/21/17]
This fulfills the "Glove" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

No comments: