PHOEBE ATWOOD TAYLOR – Death Lights a Candle. Bobbs-Merrill, hardcover, 1932. Pocket Book #204. paperback, 1943. Foul Play Press, trade paperback, 1989. Norton, trade paperback, 2005.

   The second appearance of Cape Cod’s most famous sleuth, Asey Mayo, is marked by a Wellfleet mansion being snowed in by a late March blizzard, with its owner found dead in the morning, of arsenic poisoning. Method: candles the wicks of which have been soaked in the stuff.

   Lots of suspects, no alibis, and part of the motive is half-witted at best. The detection is rudimentary, the third quarter sags badly, and you can’t keep track of the people involved without a scorecard. What this novel does have plenty of, however, is character.

–Reprinted from Mystery*File #18, December 1989, in slightly revised form.