Friday, June 6, 2014

Vintage Mystery #18

I read this book for the Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge 2014. The challenge is to read 6 or more Vintage Mysteries. All novels must have been originally written before 1960 and be from the mystery category.

I read this for N-3: Size in the Title. OK, it’s quantity in the title, good enough I hope!!

Too Many Cousins -  Douglas Browne, 1953

Six cousins stand to inherit a substantial fortune built by a merchant prince of a grandfather. Then certain of them run into a singularly foul run of bad luck. One is run down in a road accident. One is poisoned. One is drowned.

A fourth is sure that she was pushed into the path of a lorry. Living to tell her tale, she captures the attention of Mr. Harvey Tuke, Senior Legal Assistant to the Director of Public Prosecutions. On his vacation - of course - he investigates these accidents.

Browne is a clear writer, despite his employment of challenging vocabulary and complex grammar. The plot is seamless and the characters distinct and memorable. Browne captures professional wariness and rivalries so well that I wonder if he was writing from direct experience. The setting is London near the end of WWII so there are curious periodic touches of bombed ruins and using electricity and gas frugally. Dover Publications thought Too Many Cousins worthwhile enough to re-print in the Eighties.

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