PATRICIA WENTWORTH – The Blind Side. Inspector Ernest Lamb #1. Hodder & Stoughton, UK, hardcover, 1939. J. B. Lippincott, US, hardcover, 1939. Popular Library #66, US, 1945 (?). Warner, US, paperback, 1991. Dean Street Press, UK, trade paperback, 2016.

   Inspector Lamb showed up in three of Patricia Wentworth’s over 60 works of detective fiction, but based on this first one, to call him a series character, as all the mystery reference sources do, is stretching it quite a bit. All he does in The Blind Side is be there as someone representing the police end of things. Otherwise he’s a complete nonentity. He really doesn’t do any investigating. Perhaps he had more to do in the other two. This one’s pretty much an “in family” case of deduction.

   Dead is an obnoxious middle tenant on one floor of the building he owns. My use of the word obnoxious is based on the fact that as the book opens he about to evict a maiden aunt who has lived in the flat next door for many years and has nowhere else to go.

   He is also an exceptional cad with women, and the gentlemen who he steals them from aren’t at all happy about it. So when he ends up dead, we the reader are not at all surprised. Mucking the investigation up is the fact that everyone who had a motive seems to have been in his apartment that night, one sleepwalking (she says) and having the bloody bare feet to show for it, and another (one of the jilted suitors) on a drunken binge after threatening murder the entire evening before.

   I’m not sure how fair the play is in this novel. I don’t think it’s as tightly written as any of Christie’s around this same time period, but with all of the time tables, family charts, alibis, and false trails, I certainly had a lot of fun with it.