KATHLEEN MOORE KNIGHT – Three of Diamonds. Elisha Macomber #15. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1953. Detective Book Club, hardcover, three-in-one edition.

   The detective of record in Three of Diamonds is one Elisha Macomber, chairman of the Board of Selectmen of Penberthy Township, Penberthy Island, Massachusetts, a man perhaps in his 70s. Although there is a Chief of Police on the island (think Nantucket), whenever there is a serious crime (murder, for example), he is the one who is charge of the investigation that follows, and over the years, there were quite a few. (See the list below.)

   He’s off stage for much of this one, however. The action centers instead around the Crockett family, long time residents of the island, an older woman who lords it over a young sister and brother, both used to living under her thumb all their lives. In a pottery barn out back live a husband and wife, plus a young female assistant, not, as it turns out, all that harmoniously

   It is the younger brother Titus, not generally considered to be the smartest whip in the barrel, who finds the body, shot between the eyes. But when others go to find it, the body is gone. At the scene of the “crime,” however, is a playing card. The three of diamonds.

   It is difficult to solve a murder, obviously, when there is no body to be identified, if indeed there was a body. Macomber is convinced, however, and does more than due diligence to determine what indeed had happened. The case also involves some recent strangers on the island, who may be connected with some jewel robberies up in Boston,

   There is a chapter or two soon before the ending in which all of the participants in the tale spend their time skulking around in the dark, following each other at times, and in at least one instance, one hitting another over the head. The ending itself is one of those all of the suspects together kind of affairs, in which the obvious suspect sits there with Elisha in charge with a entire collection of least likely suspects.

   One might suspect that author Kathleen Moore Knight would things index control at this point, but she does not. What follows is a fast-paced mixture of confusion and chaos that could easily boggle your mind, if you were to let it. It is better just to sit back and fasten your seat belts. The ending of this one is a doozie!

      The Elisha Macomber series —

Death Blew Out the Match (1935)
The Clue of the Poor Man’s Shilling (1936)
The Wheel That Turned (1936)
Seven Were Veiled (1937)
Acts of Black Night (1938)
The Tainted Token (1938)
Death Came Dancing (1941)
The Trouble At Turkey Hill (1946)
Footbridge to Death (1947)
Bait for Murder (1948)
The Bass Derby Murder (1949)
Death Goes to a Reunion (1952)
Valse Macabre (1952)
Akin to Murder (1953)
Three of Diamonds (1953)
Beauty Is a Beast (1959)