A Christmas party turns deadly when a scandalous affair, suspicion of treason, and a woman scorned lead to murder in this 1920s-style whodunit.
London 1928. For Sir Edmund Ferrier, the past year has been one of hard-won triumphs. Recently appointed a cabinet minister, Sir Edmund confidently expects to be elected prime minister one day. But when his ex-lover, Mrs. Pulver, is found dead in his study, Sir Edmund soon finds his career and his life in danger—not least from his spiteful and enigmatic wife.
Writing mysteries is one of the hardest literary endeavours, in my opinion, because it requires skilful planning and a reasonably large cast of characters. But writing short mysteries is even more difficult because you need to work with a smaller amount of words – and endeavour of its own.
Anthony Slayton succeeds in doing it quite nimbly.
This is a novelette that can be read in just one sit but will keep you wondering the whole time.
The cast of characters is large enough to make it difficult to pin down the murderer, and all of them are well-rounded, complex characters. While the layers in the characters’ personalities are more suggested than exposed, they are still there, and it makes this group of people particularly interesting.
The net of relationships was one of the things I enjoyed the most here.
There are, in fact, two mysteries going on. One is the murder mystery proper. The other is more of a ‘spy story.’ Mr. Quayte is what brings them together.
Having read the first novel in the series (of which this novelette is a prequel), I know that Mr Quayle will later come more into his character. Still, here already, he shows his peculiar personality: that of a man who prefers to stay on the fringes, observing – not necessarily to investigate. However, this characteristic certainly makes him the perfect sleuth and also an unusual one, if I may say. In today’s cosy panorama, I often see sleuths that possess ‘showy’ characteristics, and that’s what makes them stand out. Mr. Qualey is the exact opposite – which is, in my opinion, precisely what makes him stand out.
It’s a great story. Give it a go! Especially since it’s free to read!A Quite Deadly Affair by Anthony Slayton – The prequel to the #cosymystery series Mr Quayle Mysteries is a novelette with some great characters and two mysteries! #bookreview Click To Tweet
A Quite Deadly Affair
“Whatever your personal motives,” Mr. Finch said at last, “you were quite right not to mention the stolen papers to Inspector Harcourt. At this stage, the presence of a dead woman in Sir Edmund’s study is scandalous enough without adding the suggestion of treason or espionage.”
“Do you believe the papers are linked to Mrs. Pulver’s murder?”
“Do you?” Mr. Finch replied, answering a question with a question and giving no hint of his own thoughts on the matter.
Mr. Quayle grimaced. In for a penny, in for a pound. “I’m not sure if you’re aware, sir,” he said, “but I have previously suggested to one of your men – a Mr Swallow, I believe – that Mrs. Pulver might be involved in the theft. Her affair with Sir Edmund would be the perfect cover, and with her connections on the Continent, she would be well placed to smuggle the documents out of the country…”
“Yes,” Mr. Finch said, “I am aware of your theory. Although, at the time, Mr. Swallow was of the opinion that you were either grasping at straws or desperately attempting to deflect suspicion.”
“That remains to be seen. However, with Mrs Pulver dead and the documents still missing – despite your best efforts, I might add – we have no way of proving or disproving your little theory. Unless, of course, you are suggesting that we arrest the Deputy Foreign Minister of treason based merely on your supposition.”
“No.” Mr. Quayle shook his head. “Of course not.”
“Then it is imperative that we find this intruder of yours as soon as possible. Inspector Harcourt will be looking as well, but I would prefer to get my hands on them first, whoever they might be. We need to know what they were looking for.”
The Thursday Quotables was originally a weekly post created by Lisa Wolf for her book blog Bookshelf Fantasy . It isn’t a weekly post anymore, not even for Lisa, but just like her, I still love to share my favourite reads on Thursdays and I still use the original template which included an excerpt.