Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne

Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne was first published in 1931 and as you can see it’s subtitled A Scottish Mystery.

The setting is Castle Duchlan, a remote and grim Highland pile. The laird of Duchlan is a very weak sort of man, dominated completely by his sister who has never married, but has lived her life as head of the household, even when Duchlan married, his sister Mary Gregor was still the boss. I say ‘Duchlan’ because of course in Scotland the laird often goes by the name of the place rather than his family name.

Duchlan’s son is now in the army and is married with a son of his own called Eoghan and Mary Gregor was determined to take over as the boy’s mother. She’s one of those dreadful women who are so jealous that they can’t bear any males in the family to have anything to do with any other women. It’s a difficult situation for all concerned, especially for the young mother.

When Mary Gregor is found dead in her bedroom after having been stabbed it’s a real puzzle as there appears to be no way it could have been done. Her door is locked and the only real clue is a fish scale which is found in the wound. The superstitious Highlanders believe in fishy creatures which come from nearby water and the scale seems to prove their theory to them anyway.

But Inspector Dundas is brought up from Glasgow to crack the case, he’s helped by the local doctor – Eustace Hailey who is an amateur sleuth.

This is a good mystery which has plenty of twists and turns. I did guess the culprit but by then I wasn’t too far from the end.

Anthony Wynne was the nom de plume of Robert McNair Wilson who was a Glaswegian cardiologist. He was one of those people who had lots of interests and you can’t help but wonder how he managed to have a very successful medical career as well as writing mysteries, histories, biographies and was also interested in politics and economics, also writing books on those subjects. He stood for parliament twice, standing as a Liberal but he was not voted in, which is a plus as far as I’m concerned. He was also the medical correspondent for The Times for over 30 years and wrote for The Pictorial magazine.

I think maybe he had an identical twin brother!

I note that the link above to Fantastic Fiction states that Wynne was an English physician when he was in fact Scottish.

If you are thinking of buying this book you should check your local charity shops as I have come across four copies of it in various shops within a few days.

Til Death Do Us Part by John Dickson Carr

This vintage crime book was first published in 1944 and it’s another ‘locked room’ mystery.

The successful thriller writer and playwright Dick Markham has just become engaged to Lesley Grant, a new inhabitant to the village, much to the disgust of many of the villagers who had expected him to marry their favourite, the local girl, Cynthia Drew, whom he’d been friendly with for some time.

The action begins at a village bazaar with the usual entertainments like a shooting-range, cricket match and fortune-teller’s tent. When Lesley shoots the fortune teller in an accident it isn’t long before rumours start to circulate that she isn’t who she claims to be and Dick doesn’t know what to believe.

The detective Dr Gideon Fell arrives to investigate the dastardly goings on in the village and things become even more perplexing before he manages to crack the case. I was kept guessing right to the end, what more can you ask for!

This book is part of the Black Dagger Crime series which is a joint effort between BBC audiobooks and the Crime Writers’ Association.

If you want to learn more about Dr Fell have a look here.

He reminds me a bit of Rex Stout, they both have a huge girth, find it difficult to get about and have more than a fondness for beer but I can’t help wondering why Dickson Carr gave him the name of Dr Fell. It’s a name which was first used in 1680 when it appears in a nursery rhyme, you can read about it here. But that article doesn’t even mention the Dickson Carr use of the name, although several other people seem to have used it.

There’s also a song by Juliet Turner which goes like this-