Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Case With Three Husbands: Review

Case with Three Husbands (1967) features one of Margaret Erskine's favorite stocks-in-trade--the eccentric family. The Towers is home to the Bonner family consisting of two brothers, one of whom renounced his military rank and gave back his medals when India won her independence, and the twin sister of one them as well as three members of younger generations. All have lived in the gloomy old mansion with the front gates and front of the house closed up in protest of the abdication of Edward VIII. Anyone who wants to visit the house must come to the tradesman's entrance.

Aunt Agatha (the twin) is preparing to to celebrate her 75th birthday when she suffers a shock that produces a stroke. Meanwhile, Rose (Bonner) Linnell, the many-times married member of the next generation, thinks she may have seen one of her supposedly dead husbands wandering around the grounds. Was that what shocked Aunt Agatha so--after all, the family is expecting to inherit money that depends on there being no hint of bastardy or bigamy. Agatha begins to recover, but before she is well enough to tell anyone what brought on the attack she is murdered in her bed.

Fortunately for the Bonners, Inspector Septimus Finch of Scotland Yard is in the neighborhood recovering from a gunshot wound. He is staying with his doctor friend Adam Braithwaite for the final stage of his convalescence. Dr. Braithwaite just happens to be attending the Bonner family and so Finch has an inside track on the mystery. And he has already overheard an interesting conversation and found a crucial clue--a pair of men's size ten shoes that had been buried along the shoreline of the coastal village. It isn't long before Finch has discovered the identity of the mystery man and the reason why Aunt Agatha had to die.

Margaret Erskine is a good, solid, second-tier mystery writer. She provides a good, twisty mystery with eccentric characters and plenty of clues and red herrings. Finch is a likeable, though a bit colorless investigator--though part of that could be the result of his convalescent status. The interactions of the other characters really carry the story in this one and I enjoyed trying to figure out who the man was that Rose had seen and who had possibly caused Aunt Agatha's stroke. ★★ and 1/2.

[Finished on 10/15/17]
This counts for the "Staircase" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.


Peggy Ann said...
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Peggy Ann said...

I have a couple Erskine’s on the shelf. Looking forward to reading them.