William F. Deeck

MAUREEN SARSFIELD – A Party for Lawty. Coward-McCann, US, hardcover, 1948. Nicholson, UK, 1948, as Dinner for None. Reprinted in the US as Murder at Beechlands, softcover, Rue Morgue Press, 2003.


   Driving back from a week of duck shooting, Inspector Lane Parry of Scotland Yard becomes stranded in a Sussex blizzard. Seeking shelter is a big mistake, as he ends up at the Beechlands Hotel, which isn’t, as he first concludes, a lunatic asylum. It does, however, run that institution a close second.

   A party was to be held for Lawrence “Lawty” Lawton, World War II hero and ladies’ man. Since someone has done him in at the hotel, the festivities don’t take place. Several people have motives, with jealousy and money being foremost among them. And why do so many people want to remove something from the hotel’s safe?

   Parry, who would dearly love to avoid an investigation among the peculiar inhabitants and employees of the hotel, finds himself operating alone against a determined murderer who strikes again. A frenetic investigation and not a fair-play type, I would conclude, but then I got lost amid all the excitement and may have missed the clues.

   Fine reading here.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 1, Winter 1991.

Bibliographic Notes:   Maureen Sarsfield, the working byline of Maureen Pretyman (or vice-versa?), was the author of one other crime novel, that being Green December Fills the Graveyard (Pilot, UK, 1945), reprinted in the US as Murder at Shots Hall by Rue Morgue Press in 2003. As usual for Rue Morgue, there is a very informative article discussing all that is known about Maureen Sarsfield. (If one were to wish to read A Party for Lawty, in all likelihood it will have to be the Rue Morgue edition. Only one other copy was found just now on the Internet, and that one was in French.)