Sat 28 Feb 2009
KATHLEEN MOORE KNIGHT – The Trouble at Turkey Hill.
Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1946. Hardcover reprint: Detective Book Club [3-in-1 edition], June 1946.
My wife Judy and I moved to Connecticut in 1969. I’m a transplant from Michigan and not a native New Englander at all. I don’t know if there really is a Penberthy Island, where many of Kathleen Moore Knight’s books take place, and if there isn’t, while I can’t tell you which one she may have used as a model, Martha’s Vineyard certainly suggests itself.
No matter. There has to be plenty of communities all along the Cape Cod coast that are just like it, and all of them are ideal places to live, too, if you don’t mind tourists. I count a total of sixteen Elisha Macomber murder mysteries, he being her most commonly used series character. On a per capita basis, I think you’d have to admit, Penberthy would have to be a terribly dangerous place to hang your hat.
What Elisha Macomber does is operate the village fish market, but besides that, he’s also the chairman of the local Board of Selectmen. So in addition to being considered an autocratic father figure by the entire island, he’s also the investigative officer whenever another murder occurs.
In this case he’s in charge of tracking down the killer of the wife of a recently returned war veteran.
Telling the story is Miss Marcella Tracy, librarian and former school teacher. A lot of strange things happen to confuse matters, and even though everyone already has a sharp eye out into everyone else’s affairs, I got the feeling that calling all the suspects together into one big room to be confronted with all the evidence all at once might not have been such a bad idea. It’s that kind of story.
I’m too embarrassed to say that I mucked the solution up something fierce, so I won’t.
[UPDATE] 02-28-09. One of the corrections I made in the review was the number of Elisha Macomber books there were. The number above is now the right one. Kathleen Moore Knight also wrote four books between 1940 and 1944 with Margot Blair as the leading character. According to the Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Blair was a partner in a public relations firm called Norman and Blair.
I don’t think I’ve read any of the latter’s adventures, but I have read (and as I recall, enjoyed) three or four of Elisha Macombers, which appeared over a long period of time, from 1935 to 1959. That’s a long run for a fellow who’s probably next to unknown to most mystery readers today. It is a shame.
From the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, here’s a list of all sixteen. Note that a couple of pre-war cases took place in Panama. Macomber then disappeared for six years while the war was going on. I wonder what that was all about.
MACOMBER, ELISHA [Kathleen Moore Knight]
Death Blew Out the Match (n.) Doubleday 1935 [Massachusetts]
The Clue of the Poor Man’s Shilling (n.) Doubleday 1936 [Massachusetts]
The Wheel That Turned (n.) Doubleday 1936 [Massachusetts]
Seven Were Veiled (n.) Doubleday 1937 [Massachusetts]
Acts of Black Night (n.) Doubleday 1938 [Massachusetts]
The Tainted Token (n.) Doubleday 1938 [Panama]
Death Came Dancing (n.) Doubleday 1940 [Panama]
The Trouble at Turkey Hill (n.) Doubleday 1946 [Martha's Vineyard]
Footbridge to Death (n.) Doubleday 1947 [Martha's Vineyard]
Bait for Murder (n.) Doubleday 1948 [Martha's Vineyard]
The Bass Derby Murder (n.) Doubleday 1949 [Martha�s Vineyard]
Death Goes to a Reunion (n.) Doubleday 1952 [Massachusetts]
Valse Macabre (n.) Doubleday 1952 [Martha's Vineyard]
Akin to Murder (n.) Doubleday 1953 [Massachusetts]
Three of Diamonds (n.) Doubleday 1953 [Martha's Vineyard]
Beauty Is a Beast (n.) Doubleday 1959 [Martha's Vineyard]