Snow isolates a Scottish Highland castle, providing the perfect setting for a murder mystery.
Donald Langham and Maria, his fiancee, are planning not only his move to her apartment as soon as they wed, but also a welcome-home party for Charles Elder, her boss, who’ll soon be released from prison after serving a short sentence for gross indecency. Donald, the author of several popular mysteries, has also worked as a private detective for his old army buddy Ralph Ryland. So when Ralph asks him to accompany him to Scotland to investigate who might have shot at Maj. Gordon, their former commanding officer, Donald naturally agrees. Gordon has turned a derelict castle into a comfortable hotel whose current guests are all suspects in the attempt to murder either him or Dutch engineer Hans Vermeulen, whom Gordon has hired to raise a German plane that crashed in Loch Corraig near the end of World War II. In addition to the servants, the castle’s current residents include the stunning but cold Hungarian aristocrat Renata Kaldor; professor Hardwick, who’s checking the premises for ghosts; German aircraft expert Ulrich Meyer; Gordon’s shy ward, Elspeth Stuart; and his son, Gabriel, a supercilious, second-rate poet with a bad reputation with women. While he and Ralph try to find out more about the mysterious Dornier aircraft that may provide a motive for the shooting, Donald calls on Maria to check alibis for the day someone took a shot at the major and Vermeulen. When murder strikes after a heavy snowstorm, it’s clear that the killer must be one of the current residents.
Though it’s set in the mid-1950s, Brown’s third (Murder at the Chase, 2014, etc.) is a typical golden age whodunit whose limited number of motive-rich suspects will neither break new ground nor raise your blood pressure.