GRAVE DOUBTS by Scott Corbett


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This is not one of Corbett's more shivery mysteries, but it's a trim one that misleads adeptly and unravels without giving itself away. In the beginning, rich old Mr. Canby is ailing and his two middle-aged, unmarried nephews--Victor, a solid but unlikable contractor, and Otis, a twinkle-eyed ne'er-do-well--are his likely, mutually antagonistic heirs. But the house will go to a local historical restoration project, the pet of retired lawyer Mr. Hobby. Narrator Les and his friend Wally, who take care of the grounds, are present with Otis and Hobby on the night Mr. Canby announces some changes in the conditions of his will--and, so, when they hear that the old man has died suddenly later that night, they have grave doubts that his death is a natural one. As the suspicion shifts from nephew to nephew to Mr. Hobby to Canby's servant couple, who are modest beneficiaries of the will, there are rumors of hidden gold and some mysterious nighttime comings and goings, with suspense building as the two boys follow one nephew and then the other into the empty old house. The clue to the gold's whereabouts is lodged in a double crostic, a hobby of both Mr. Colby and Otis, and so the boys bone up on the form and exercise their and readers' wits as they work on a solution. In the end they find that there has been a murder, but not the one they originally suspected. For fans of the mystery story as puzzle, a dead hit.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Atlantic/Little, Brown