THE BLURB: Ted Lyte, amateur thief, has chosen an isolated house by the coast for his first robbery. But Haven House is no ordinary country home. While hunting for silverware to steal, Ted stumbles upon a locked room containing seven dead bodies. Detective Inspector Kendall takes on the case with the help of passing yachtsman Thomas Hazeldean. The search for the house’s absent owners brings Hazeldean across the Channel to Boulogne, where he finds more than one motive to stay and investigate.
MY THOUGHTS: J. Jefferson-Farjeon is one of my favorite golden age detective story writers. His writing is both atmospheric and compelling, yet at the same time he manages to inject it with an underlying wry sense of humour.
Seven Dead is a locked room mystery. Seven bodies are discovered in a room where the shutters have been nailed closed and the key is in the lock on the outside of the room. Add a note with a cryptic clue and the portrait of a pretty young girl with a bullet hole through her heart, and the mystery deepens.
I first encountered Detective Inspector Kendall in Jefferson-Farjeon’s The Z Murders, and then Thirteen Guests, both titles that have been republished by Poisoned Pen Press as part of the British Library Crime Classics series. He is a decisive man, very thorough in his investigative techniques, and a deep thinker. He is, rather unusually for this period, a relatively realistic police detective without any of the affectations so commonly given to characters in this era.
He is aided and abetted in his investigation by a young journalist and yachtsman, Hazeldean, who had inadvertently stumbled upon burglar Ted Lyte fleeing the crime scene, his pockets full of silverware. He becomes obsessed with the painting of the girl and is determined to find her.
There are plenty of twists and unexpected turns in this story, and I became a little obsessed myself with the relevance of the silk trader.
Early on in the book, one of the characters, I think it was Kendall, says ‘There’s some mighty queer story behind all this. ‘, and he’s right. Not only queer, but compelling. Seven Dead was almost a five star read, but the ending fell a little short for me.
Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Seven Dead by J. Jefferson-Farjeon for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2283377437