Mystery crime fiction written in the Golden Age of Murder
"Readers will be rewarded with a suspenseful read, rich in setting; characters; details about WWI and its aftermath; and a horrific resolution worthy of Hitchcock." —Booklist
'My friend Ellingham has persuaded me to reveal to the public the astounding features of the Reisby case. As a study in criminal aberration it is, he tells me, of particular interest, while in singularity of horror and in perversity of ingenious method it is probably unique.'
1913. John Farringdale, with his cousin Eric Foster, visits the famous archaeologist Tolgen Reisby. At Scarweather—Reisby's lonely house on the windswept northern coast of England—Eric is quickly attracted to Reisby's much younger wife, and matters soon take a dangerous turn. Fifteen years later, the final scene of the drama is enacted.
This unorthodox novel from 1934 is by a gifted crime writer who, wrote Dorothy L. Sayers, 'handles his characters like a "real" novelist and the English language like a "real" writer—merits which are still, unhappily, rarer than they should be in the ranks of the murder specialists.'
First published in 1934, this idiosyncratic work of psychological suspense from British author Rolls (a pseudonym of C.E. Vulliamy) spans the years 1913 1928. John Farringdale, the narrator, retains a likable innocence as he matures from university student to barrister. Playing Holmes to his Watson is Frederick Ellingham, a brilliant polymath at Cambridge University. Through Farringdale's cousin Eric Foster, he and Ellingham meet eccentric archeologist Tolgen Reisby and his attractive young wife, Hilda. All become friendly, though the growing bond between Eric and Hilda perturbs her husband. While visiting the Reisbys at Scarweather, their remote home on the British coast, Eric disappears, presumed drowned. Ellingham suspects foul play, but WWI intervenes before he can test his theories. Only when Farringdale and Ellingham visit Scarweather again to witness the increasingly volatile Reisby's excavation of a site called the Devil's Hump are hidden truths revealed. This entry in the British Library Crime Classics series appeals as much for its evocative glimpse of its period and witty depiction of archeologists' quirks as for its suspense.