Sunday, May 13, 2018

Then There Were Three: Review

Then There Were Three (1938) by Geoffrey Homes was a bit of a surprise. The Bantam edition that I read had no synopsis and, being very familiar with Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, I was kind of expecting a large group of people to get knocked off--leaving only three suspects to choose from. Actually, three is the magic number of corpses that show up-- [spoiler hidden by light color--high-light the seemingly empty space if you want a peek] four, if you count the missing dog (which Homes, aka Daniel Mainwaring, apparently doesn't).  Two members of the Keenan family come to Los Pinos in the middle of nowhere to be killed...and they're quickly followed by one of the small town's inhabitants. It's up to detectives Humphrey Campbell and Robin Bishop to find out what happened.

Humphrey is a soft-boiled private eye who is employed by the Morgan Missing Persons Bureau in Los Angeles. He works for Oscar Morgan--65 years old, fat, lazy,and not above a little under the table dealing (all in the name of justice, of course). Humphrey is a little plump himself, loves to play the accordion, and, unlike most of his hard-boiled brethren, he never drinks anything stronger than milk. He is given the job of tracking down Miss Marjorie Keenan who jilted her fiance just days before the wedding bells were due to ring and has disappeared. Her trail leads to the Inn at Los Pinos on a Thursday in June. Her bags are there, unpacked, but she isn't. She walked out of the hotel the previous Saturday night and hasn't come back.

After a sniff around town and an unofficial glance through the things in her room, Humphrey gets concerned and approaches Robin Bishop--currently the editor of the Los Pinos newspaper and formerly a detective for the Morgan Missing Persons Bureau. They discover that not only has Marjorie disappeared, but so has a Great Dane belonging to a well-to-do couple living on the outskirts of town. When they also find out that a mystery man recently buried an unknown dog in the Los Pinos Memorial Pet Park, Humphrey and Robin are certain they've found the missing Great Dane. But when the plot is dug up and the casket is opened it is Marjorie Keenan who has been found. Her father comes to identify the body and he promptly disappears and gets himself killed as well. Who could possibly wish this family ill in a small town in the back of beyond? The discovery of the Great Dane's whereabouts and another death will be necessary before Humphrey and Robin wil be able to answer that question and bring the killer to justice.

This is a great private eye novel with just a hint of the screwball to it. Humphrey is a delightful detective and I like the way he and Robin Bishop work together (as well as with the local lawman Jackson). Not exactly laden with clues that would allow the reader to solve the mystery before the detectives, but it was fun to follow along with Humphrey and Robin and watch them work it all out. I would also mention that while clues might not be available to point to the killer, the small number of actual suspects does make the job easier--it's just a matter of finding the evidence to prove it. ★★★★

[Finished on 4/30/18]

1 comment:

Kate said...

Thanks for the review, another new author to me and another great cover.