PATRICIA WENTWORTH – The Blind Side. Inspector Ernest Lamb #1. Hodder & Stoughton, UK, hardcover, 1939. Lippincott, US, hardcover, 1939. Popular Library #66, US, paperback, 1945. Warner, US, paperback, June 1991. More recent editions include Dean Street Press, trade paperback, 2016, which is probably still in print.

   Miss Silver is not in this one, but her two favorite policemen, Inspector Lamb and Detective Abbott, both are. (*) The dead man in Craddock House, made over into individual flats, is quite unlikable — he’s a man with a bad temper, and a womanizer, to boot — and there are lots of suspects, mostly relatives and disgruntled employees, but leading the list is a boy friend of a girl friend if you see what I mean.

   There are so many people in and out of the dead man’s apartment during the night, including at least one sleepwalker, somebody should have been selling tickets. It takes a while for the sequence of events to get straightened out, as you can imagine, but Wentworth manages to keep the puzzle alive and moving during the next few days to follow.

   One thing puzzled me, however, and that occurred immediately after p.150, when Lamb and Abbott believe they have the case all but solved. The only question they haven’t yet answered is how their suspect, who didn’t have a key, managed to get into the building. Nevertheless, two chapters later the inquest takes place, and the jury willingly accepts Scotland Yard’s version of the crime, even as to the guilty party, and with no questions asked.

   Then after the funeral, on p.168, the question of how the killer got in pops up again, with the discovery of a key that may have been stolen, and since apparently almost anyone could have taken it, it forces the case wide open again. It’s awkward story-telling, but that’s all it is. It doesn’t really detract from the mystery, which (in spite of the over-abundance of clues) is rather easily solved — though with surprisingly little help from the police.

   This is a pleasant story, but all in all, it’s not a very challenging one.

– Reprinted from Mystery*File #32, July 1991, in slightly revised form.


(*) At the time I wrote this review, it appears I knew of a prior meeting or other connection between Miss Silver and the two detectives of record in this book. Unfortunately I no longer remember what that relationship was, if any. (I assume there was.)