Time for another weekend Flynn…
‘The stately homes of England are under threat from the seemingly untouchable jewel-thief ‘Creeping Jenny’. After the latest burglary, Inspector Baddeley suspects the country-house home of Henry Mordaunt might be the next target.
Mordaunt is hosting a party to celebrate the engagement of his daughter, when her fiancé intends to hand over a priceless gem as a gift. But murder unexpectedly strikes, and Mordaunt relies on Baddeley to unmask the culprit. Can he cope without the help of super-sleuth Anthony Bathurst, and his redoubtable sidekick Peter Daventry?’
Today’s read includes Peter Daventry, the fearless sidekick of Anthony Bathurst, which we saw in the title I reviewed last week, Invisible Death (1929), and to begin with he plays much more of an overt role in the book than the Great Sleuth, who in the manner of Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), conceals his own investigative work from his Watson.
In this mystery Flynn returns to the country house party setting and it is one he utilised a lot, although I would say he imbues this location with a great deal of variety. Many of his books give a nod to earlier crime fiction such as the exploits of Sherlock Holmes, and in the case of The Creeping Jenny Mystery, I would say this comes through the plot device of a spate of jewellery thefts, after which a calling card is always left. An unusual aspect of these thefts is that the burglar only ever removes one item, and it may not be the most valuable one available. However, murder soon follows, and we have to figure out how the two crimes interact with each other. Including the murder helps the plot to develop more effectively, though writers such as J. J. Connington did write full length mysteries with only a theft in, like The Dangerfield Talisman (1926). Interestingly, 1926 also saw another mystery published that had an infamous thief in, The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart, though it seems that that particular thief was not above murder if it was required. During the 1920s and 1930s, it was more common for murder to be the primary crime focus in mystery novels, though tales such as Francis Durbridge’s Paul Temple and the Front Page Men (1939) show a willingness to include theft more fully.
As I mentioned above murder expands the plot of Flynn’s mystery and adds some intriguing dimensions to the case and the choice of victim is an interesting one. Whilst I don’t think it is possible to figure out all aspects of the case, the reader is required to be wary of what information they glibly accept. What’s more Flynn has lots of surprises in store for the reader and the one involving the theft angle of the mystery was particularly good. There is another one which I saw coming from a mile away. The Puzzle Doctor will know which one I mean…
Source: Review Copy (Dean Street Press)