It was a post by Litlove that alerted me to the existence of Elizabeth Daly, a golden-age crime writer from the United States. She seems to have fallen so thoroughly off the radar that she doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry, almost unheard of these days. But her books, or at least eleven of the sixteen or seventeen she wrote, have recently been republished by Felony and Mahem Press, in these rather stylish monochrome covers. So I was tempted, and splashed out on this one.
The fact that I'm not going to be able to write a rave review of the novel is not at all a reflection of its quality. It's clearly a fine book, well written, with a clever twist at the end which I certainly did not see coming. It was Daly's first, and in it she introduces Henry Gamage, an expert in antiquarian books and in handwriting, who will continue to feature throughout the whole series. A quiet, well-educated man, Gamage clearly moves comfortably through relatively high class society, bringing his considerable intelligence to bear on whatever crime or mystery he happens to find himself involved in. Here it is the sudden death of an extremely wealthy young invalid, followed shortly by a couple more, this time of members of a rather seedy theatrical company. Questions of inheritance raise their heads, and many strange and puzzling things take place, all finally sorted out through the keen mind (and handwriting expertise) of Gamage.
So -- I appreciated all the novel's good qualities, and would certainly be willing to read more of Daly. But I was reading it at the wrong time -- my attention was never fully on it because I was too involved with The Luminaries. Normally I can, and do, have an audio book and a printed book on the go at the same time and happily switch between the two, but this time it just didn't work, and Daly was the one to take a back seat. But nevertheless I am quite willing to say that, if you like well written and intelligent golden age crime, you really must give Daly a go. And so must I, again, when the time is more propitious.