C. H. B. KITCHIN – Death of My Aunt. Malcolm Warren #1. Leonard & Virginia Woolf, UK, hardcover, 1929. Harcourt, US, hardcover, 1935. Perennial Library, US, paperback, 1984.

   Twenty-six year old Malcolm Warren is a London stockbroker. He is suddenly summoned to his Aunt Catherine’s home for a weekend — ostensibly to advise her about some investment. In the midst of his discussion with his aunt, she starts to choke, just after taking a dose of “Le Secret de Venus,” a very unique tonic.

   Thus begins an investigation into the murder of rich Aunt Catherine. Several relatives stand to inherit sizeable fortunes, and Catherine’s arrogant assumption of “infinite wisdom” had offended many of them. However, motive seems only as important as opportunity. And opportunity and motive seem to point directly at her second husband, Hannibal.

   The investigation uncovers the fact that the marriage was anything but ideal and Catherine was in the process of further revising her will and reducing Hannibal’s portion. With the finger of justice pointed at Hannibal, only Warren seems to accord him the possibility of innocence.

   A fast-moving narrative combines with strong characterization to equal a classic mystery from the Golden Age.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 6, Number 3 (Fall 1985).


Editorial Notes: I probably do not remember this totally correctly, but I believe that when she wrote this review, Gloria Maxwell was a librarian somewhere in the Midwest. About eight years ago I was able to get in touch with her, at which time she agreed to allow me to reprint her reviews for The Poison Pen here on this blog. I have lost touch with her since, but at the moment I am assuming that that permission still holds. She wrote quite a few reviews for Jeff Meyerson’s zine.

   As for Malcolm Warren, this was the first of four appearances in book form. Gloria also reviewed the third in the series, Death of His Uncle, in the same issue of TPP, and you’ll see it here soon.