If in doubt what to read next, pick up a vintage crime story – that’s a motto of mine and something that can usually be relied on to solve any reading crisis!

I read my first Elizabeth Daly last year, after picking up one of her volumes online. It’s surprising that Daly isn’t better known in this country, as she’s very much the Agatha Christie of her country; and this book was something of a classic country house mystery, but set in the USA!

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Henry Gamadge, Daly’s detective, is doing war work and his wife is away. Running into an old friend, Sylvanus Hutter, he’s invited to the Hutters’ house in the country – Underhill. Gamadge has been a visitor in the past and knows the family – Florence Mason (née Hutter) and her nephew Sylvanus jointly own the house and are likely to receive large legacies too, particularly when one of them dies. Someone has been playing slightly ghostly tricks on Florence, trying to scare her, and Sylvanus wants Gamadge to investigate.

This being a country house mystery, we are provided with a variety of suspicious house guests, from Florence’s (younger) husband Tom, through her dippy friend Sally, attractive young people Susie and Percy, to the loyal secretary Evelyn Wing. Then there is the odd cousin Corinne Hutter.

Needless to say, there is a murder or two, and suspicion falls on just about everybody at one time or other. There is an added, slightly spooky element with the use of planchette – as Sally is convinced that evil spirits are at work (there was a similar, ghostly element in the first Daly I read which makes me wonder if it’s something she features in all her books). Will Gamadge find the truth?

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This was a lovely, satisfying read, full of all the ups and downs of a classic murder mystery. Gamadge is an engaging detective – clever, likeable and human, infuriated by being outwitted by the murderer and determined to find a solution at all costs. The supporting cast was well-drawn and the setting was beautifully portrayed – in fact, I recall that the location was important in “Evidence of Things Seen”, and it will be interesting to see if Daly always chooses a striking setting as a backdrop for her detective!

I confess I had a slight inkling of who the murderer might be, but certainly had no idea of the motives or twists and turns of the plot. Daly and her Gamadge are definitely new favourites on the crime front and I’m looking forward to exploring more of their adventures!