Let the guest beware in these 16 reprinted stories, spanning roughly 65 years, set in British country houses.
None but Sherlock Holmes could figure out why a governess’s duties include wearing a specific dress in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Copper Beeches.” In Dick Donovan’s “The Problem of Dead Wood Hall,” a tiny bluish scratch on each of two murder victims is the only indication of foul play. “Gentlemen and Players” features E.W. Hornung’s Raffles in a witty blend of cricket and thievery, and a falling diamond bracelet upsets a desperate plan in W.W. Jacobs’ “The Well.” In G.K. Chesterton’s “The White Pillars Murder,” a notable detective’s protégés learn the difference between listening and hearing, and Ernest Bramah combines an ancient family house, an ancient family curse, and very ancient Druidic ruins in “The Secret of Dunstan’s Tower.” J.J. Fletcher’s “The Manor House Mystery” offers three different solutions to a country magistrate’s murder. A debt-ridden man almost gets away with murder in J.J. Bell’s “The Message on the Sun-Dial”; “The Horror at Staveley Grange” is a haunted room where Sapper (H.C. McNeile) introduces two healthy men who died of heart failure. Anthony Berkeley presents a dead body that disappears twice from a thicket of trees in “The Mystery of Horne’s Copse,” and James Hilton’s “The Perfect Plan” is an almost perfect murder. What should be a hostess’ social triumph ends in humiliation in Margery Allingham’s “The Same to Us.” E.V. Knox’s “The Murder at the Towers” sends up the classic amateur detective who solves the murder of the most disagreeable of houseguests. A nurse spends a night of terror in Ethel Lina White’s “The Unlocked Window”; Nicholas Blake exposes a long-held family secret in “The Long Shot”; and a greedy husband and wife ruin far more than their own lives in Michael Gilbert’s “Weekend at Wapentake.”
The more gracious the home, the worse the crime in this anthology by a who’s who of mostly golden-age writers.