Investigating her mysterious birth leads a bright young artist into peril
For a few hours after her birth, Amanda Garth had two fathers. One was John, the kind, forthright man who would raise her. The other was Tobias Garrison, a well-known California artist who, because of a mix-up in the hospital’s nursery, briefly thought Amanda was his. The confusion was straightened out, and the misunderstanding is forgotten for twenty-three years, when questions about her birth cause Amanda to approach the Garrisons. This could prove a deadly mistake. Someone in that poisonous family is plotting a murder, and the last thing they want is another heir to the massive Garrison fortune. The quest for truth could mean death for the girl whose birth was shrouded in secrecy.
Gifted artist Amanda Garth, the heroine of this superior 1948 mystery from Edgar winner Armstrong (1905 1969), has her world upended after a chance remark from a visiting cousin, Edna Fairchild. When Edna spots a newspaper article about a painting by Tobias Garrison, a celebrated California artist, she connects Garrison with a mix-up at the hospital at the time of Amanda's birth 23 years earlier. Amanda's mother and Tobias's wife both delivered babies at the same facility within a few hours of each other, but when Tobias asked to see his new child, the student nurse held up Amanda by mistake. Thinking she may have been given to the wrong parents at birth, Amanda visits Tobias at his home in L.A., where she learns that his first wife is dead; she is then disturbed to spot his current spouse deliberately break a jug of hot chocolate before it can be consumed. When Amanda, suspicious of what might have been in the jug, has a handkerchief with some of the spilled liquid tested, poison is detected. Readers soon know the culprit, but will Amanda be able to stop the killer in time? Armstrong maintains nail-biting suspense throughout. Hopefully, more of Armstrong's undeservedly forgotten work will be reissued in the American Mystery Classics series.
One of a great writer's greatest
Every lover of suspense should read this book.