Checkmate to murder A Second World War mystery

E. C. R. Lorac, 1894-1958

Book - 2021

"On a dismally foggy night in Hampstead, London, a curious party has gathered in an artist's studio to weather the wartime blackout A civil servant and a government scientist are matching wits in a game of chess, while an artist paints the portrait of his characterful sitter, bedecked in Cardinal's robes at the other end of the room. In the kitchen, the artist's sister is hosting the charlady of the miser next door. When the brutal murder of said miser is discovered by his Ca...nadian infantryman nephew, it's not long before Inspector Macdonald of Scotland Yard is at the scene, faced with perplexing alibis and with the fate of the young soldier in his hands. In the search for the culprit, Macdonald and his team of detectives must figure out if one of the members of the studio party is somehow involved in the death, or if some other scurrilous neighbour could be responsible"--

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MYSTERY/Lorac, E. C. R.
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British Library crime classics.
Mystery fiction
Detective and mystery fiction
Naperville, Illinois : Poisoned Pen Press [2021]
Physical Description
viii, 214 pages ; 21 cm
Main Author
E. C. R. Lorac, 1894-1958 (author)
Review by Booklist Review

This latest reissue from the British Library Crime Classics series was originally published in 1944. It's set in London during WWII and, as its title suggests, feels like a chess game itself, in which Lorac's series hero, Inspector Macdonald of Scotland Yard, considers the moves and countermoves of suspects gathered in one room across the way from the scene of the crime. A miserly old man has been shot in his dilapidated bedroom. Five people are gathered in an artists' studio: an artist is drawing the portrait of an actor robed as a cardinal; the artist's sister, also an artist, is making a stew from the guests' ration contributions; and two guests play chess at the other end of the room. Their occupations are interrupted by a special constable, hauling in a young Canadian soldier, the miser's grandnephew, who was seen leaving the victim's flat just after the murder. Inspector Macdonald stems the rush to judgment in his rational, steady way. Period details--the way wartime blackout regulations made any crime at night hard to see, and the fact that no one noticed the fatal shot because people had become so used to hearing explosives--make this mystery especially fascinating. Readers may want to follow up with Lorac's Murder by Matchlight, also set during WWII.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in WWII London, this excellent fair-play mystery from Lorac (1894--1958) opens on a dramatic note. One evening, artist Bruce Manaton is in his studio painting the portrait of an actor while two other men, a civil servant and a government chemist, are playing chess. Shortly after Manaton's sister pops outside briefly to make sure that blackout precautions have been observed, Special Constable Lewis Verraby, who has arrested Canadian soldier Neil Folliner for murder, intrudes on the quartet. After noticing the front door of the building next to the studio open, Verraby went inside and found Folliner near the corpse of the soldier's great-uncle, Albert, who'd been shot in the head. Folliner insists that Albert was already dead when he arrived. Scotland Yard's Chief Insp. Robert Macdonald, Lorac's series sleuth, looks beyond the obvious--that Folliner is guilty--at the possible motives of the others on the scene, including Verraby. The astute Macdonald's interrogations and deductions lead to a satisfying resolution. The characters are all well-delineated, and the clues artfully hidden. First published in 1944, this British Library Crime Classic more than deserves that status. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

All the restrictions imposed on London in 1944 can't prevent a most private murder among a tiny circle of neighbors and guests in this ingenious wartime cozy from the pseudonymous Edith Caroline Rivett (1894-1958). A disturbance outside the studio of impoverished artist Bruce Manaton turns out to be bumptious Special Constable Lewis Verraby arresting Neil Folliner for the murder of his great-uncle, Albert Folliner, in the adjoining house. Not a bit of it, protests the young Canadian; coming to visit and see if he could be of any help, he'd entered the open front door and climbed the stairs to find the old pauper (or miser?) already shot to death. A pair of witnesses at either end of this block of Hollyberry Hill narrow the list of alternative suspects to half a dozen. But no one would suspect Folliner's devoted charlady, Mrs. Tubbs, and at least four of the others have cast-iron alibis. As Manaton painted actor André Delaunier in a cardinal's robes, his other guests, Home Office veteran Robert Cavenish and young government chemist Ian Mackellon, were playing chess in the same cavernous room. Only the painter's sister, Rosanne Manaton, who spent most of the evening preparing dinner in the kitchen, could conceivably have slipped out. Chief Inspector Macdonald of the CID scrupulously avoids licentious theorizing as he questions the impossible suspects and gradually reveals a powerful motive involving 25 Hollyberry Hill. Few readers will be surprised by the denouement, but they'll have passed a pleasant few hours anyway. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.