First sentence: There were several promising-looking letters in the pile laid on Mrs. James Kane's virgin breakfast-plate on Monday morning, but, having sorted all the envelopes with the air of one expectant of discovering treasure-trove, she extracted two addressed to her in hands indicative either of illiteracy or of extreme youth.
Premise/plot: Duplicate Death should never, ever, ever be read before They Found Him Dead. Trust me--please. The novel opens and closes with the stars of They Found Him Dead now happily married and the parents of four children. (Patricia Allison and James "Jim" Kane). Why the novel opens and closes with them remains a mystery to me.
Timothy HARTE is madly in love with a young woman, Miss Beulah Birtley. Miss Birtley is working for a difficult woman, Mrs. Haddington; Mrs. Haddington has a beautiful daughter, Cynthia. If it was up to Mrs. Haddington--which it isn't--Cynthia and Timothy would make a match of it. Both young people are at a bridge party at the Haddington house--though I don't quite remember if Miss Birtley is a "guest" or "staff" at the time--when a murder occurs. The investigators from the case are Hannasyde and Hemingway. Both remember Timothy Harte from their previous acquaintance. Both are listed among the suspects, though neither tops the list of SUSPECTS. A second murder throws the investigation off--for a while.
My thoughts: It annoys me that the jacket copy is INACCURATE for this one. Is it really so terribly hard to get a name right? Timothy KANE is not a character in the book. He doesn't exist. Not existing, he doesn't have a fiancee who's a prime suspect. However, Timothy HARTE does exist and does have a fiancee, though she's not really a prime suspect. Also the book stresses the friendship between Timothy KANE and the inspectors; I would say that is misleading as well. Fourteen years--give or take--have gone by without them speaking to each other or "hanging out." I doubt that the Inspectors were thinking of or missing Timothy in all those years. And probably the same could be said for Timothy. They were acquaintances that were on friendly terms--nothing more, nothing less.
All that being said, I liked this one well enough.
'Look here, I--the thing is--there are things in my life you don't know anything about!'
'Good God, I should hope there were!' retorted Timothy. "I've only known you a month!'
'And some of them you wouldn't like!'
'I daresay. Come to think of it, I can tell you of one thing in your young life I don't like right now, and that's Mr. Daniel Seaton-Carew.'
'I have no wish to appear boastful,' returned young Mr. Harte, 'but from my earliest days it has been said of me by all who know me best that I talk enough for two, or even more.'
'Seaton-Carew is considered to be rather an attractive type.'
'What does he attract? Pond-life?'
'Wireless programmes are neither primarily or secondarily intended for cultured persons,' replied Timothy, quite unruffled. 'Too often they appear to be intended either for the entirely witless, or for those desirous of acquiring without effort a little easy knowledge. I remember that someone once gave a fifteen minute talk on the Battle of Waterloo. A sobering thought.'
The Chief Inspector groaned. 'Any line on it at all?'
'Might be, might not. Doesn't sound like a cinch, from the first report. There were forty-nine people in the house at the time--'
'Fifty-five, counting the servants,' said the Superintendent.
'What you [Pershore] want to do is to hire a hall, and give a series of lectures on police work,' interposed Hemingway. 'You'll probably make a lot of money: people will pay to listen to anything! I wouldn't, of course, but that's because I have to listen to you, and even the Department wouldn't expect me to pay for doing what I can't help. Now you stop trying to annoy me, and tell me what's been happening here without any trimmings!'
'Good God!' said Mr. Harte, staring at him between narrowed eyelids. 'You're the Sergeant!'
'Well, I was once, but I've been promoted,' he replied. 'Did you happen to know me when I was a Sergeant, sir?'
'Of course I did!' said Timothy, rising, and going towards him, with his hand held out. 'You probably don't remember me, but don't you remember the Kane case?'
'Perhaps you are confusing popularity with usefulness. Unattached men, Chief Inspector, are greatly in demand amongst hostesses.'
If you were to have given Mr. Godfrey Poulton the choice between having a sewer-rat loose in his house or the late Seaton-Carew, it's my belief he'd have chosen the rat.
The only thing that would surprise me about his case would be if I was able to get a real lead.
Ever add two and two together and get five for an answer? No, you wouldn't because you've got no imagination, but it's what I can see myself doing. All the same, taking your bit of dirt with what I gathered from Lady Nest's way of carrying on, I think this'll bear looking into.
'Look here, I don't mind you making two and two five, but when you start making it six, your'e going too far, Sandy!' expostulated Hemingway.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews