Sunday, August 16, 2015

Thirteen Guests - J. Jefferson Farjeon

Thirteen Guests
J. Jefferson Farjeon
Poisoned Pen/British Library Crime Classics, Sep 1 2015, $12.95
ISBN 9781464204890

Two passengers leave the 3:28 train at the Flensham Station.  When one of them John Foss twists his ankle stepping onto the platform, the other thirtyish widow Nadine Leveridge comes to his aid.  After a quick stop at a doctor, with help from servants she takes him to the nearby estate of Conservative politician Lord Aveling and his wife where she attends a weekend country party along with eleven other invitees and with Foss making it unlucky Thirteen Guests. 

The gala turns ugly when someone angrily smudges a painting of the Honourable Anne Aveling whose artist Pratt is at the event.  This is followed by the discovery of an unknown person’s corpse, a botched stag hunt, the killing of a family dog and the murder of a guest.  Police Detective Inspector Kendall leads the investigation.  He finds no one grieves in the slightest over the human homicides, but the host family mourns deeply the loss of their canine.  The DI is taken aback when some of the guests snidely respond to his questions with sarcasm.

This reprint of a 1936 leisurely-paced British Country House police procedural contains an engaging mystery due to a fascinating scandalous cast whose interplay makes for a droll insightful cozy.  J. Jefferson Farjeon wrote an intriguing still relevant period piece as the acceptance of de facto racism and social caste strata remain timely with the need for the Gay Rights and Black Lives Matter movements, and the 1% control of the economic-political complex.

Harriet Klausner

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