THE DIVISION BELL MYSTERY  by Ellen Wilkinson

THE DIVISION BELL MYSTERY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This 1932 reprint, the one and only mystery by Labour Party MP Wilkinson (1891-1947), brings an impossible crime to the House of Commons.

Wealthy, crippled American financier Georges Oissel, who reportedly hasn’t accepted a social engagement in 10 years, breaks his self-imposed rule to dine in Room J with the Home Secretary in connection with a sizable loan he’s arranging to His Majesty’s government. He should have waited longer. Shortly after the Home Secretary, otherwise identified only as Flossie, steps out for a moment, Oissel is shot to death. The first reaction of Robert West, the Home Secretary’s own Private Secretary, is to mourn Oissel’s suicide. But Inspector Blackitt of Scotland Yard soon demonstrates that he couldn’t possibly have killed himself even though his fingerprints were on the weapon and the waiter in the corridor outside saw no one else enter the room. Police arrive at the dead man’s lodgings at Charlton Court to find his rooms ransacked, his valet, Pierre Daubisq, chloroformed, and Edward Jenks, a private investigator the Home Secretary had loaned him, murdered. Can things possibly get worse? Of course they can. Annette Oissel, the financier’s granddaughter, informs Robert that the one thing she’s certain is missing from her grandfather’s effects is a notebook in which he kept records of his financial transactions, and she asks if he could please look out for it without, um, mentioning it to the police. Annette bats her eyes so magnetically that Robert feels compelled to help her even though he knows she’s engaged to Philip Kinnaird, an MP whose fortunes took a nose dive in a recent financial disaster. Worse still, the notebook turns up in a place that virtually guarantees a Parliamentary crisis amid the separate scandal of murder.

Though she’s no threat to John Dickson Carr’s mastery of locked-room murders, Wilkinson deftly tacks between satirizing the stolid Ministers who get ensnared in these crimes and plotting a sturdy detective story.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4642-1085-3
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: Poisoned Pen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2018




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