Dean Street Press mines the Golden Age

death-in-the-dentists-chairDeath in the Dentist’s Chair by Molly Thynne; Golden Age mystery; republished by Dean Street Press; list price, $2.99 (USD) for Kindle – but FREE when posted.

Why some mysteries are perennially popular and others fall out of favor is a mystery to me, and always has been, but one of the greatest advantages of digital publishing is the opportunity to rediscover such Golden Age gems as Molly Thynne’s six classic mysteries.

I picked up four of the six for free, thanks to my friend Cindy, who brought both Dean Street Press and Thynne (pronounced “thin”) to my attention recently, but any of them would have been a bargain at the $2.99 (USD) list price, and I recommend all six without reservation.

If you don’t like Golden Age fiction, you wouldn’t like these.  But, if you do, you’re in for a treat!

This week’s free offering is Death in the Dentist’s Chair – a popular place for murder in Golden Age fiction, as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers also disposed of victims in a dentist’s office. Marian Babson did, too, decades later, in her In the Teeth of Adversity. This one is as every bit as good.

It’s a locked-room mystery, a favorite theme in classic crime fiction, returning Dr. Constantine and Detective-Inspector Arkwright, whom Thynne introduced in Death at the Noah’s Ark. Thynne created a challenging mystery with an intriguing cast of characters in a delightful setting, and wrapped it up in well-written prose for a satisfying story – and I could and do say the same about the other five mysteries she wrote.

The only complaint I can possibly make is that she only wrote six. I’d like to read more.

NOTE: Sis borrowed this title from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, then bought her own copy.  The publisher not only made no attempt to influence her review – the publisher doesn’t even know she has reviewed it!

Description: Constantine reflected on the various means dentists have at their disposal should they wish to silence their patients … Mr. Humphrey Davenport, society dentist, has an embarrassing problem – he has managed to get locked out of his own surgery. And to make matters worse, Mrs Charles Miller is locked inside, minus her false teeth. When the door is finally opened, the patient is found with her throat cut. Dr. Constantine, a fellow patient at the clinic, is a witness to the gruesome discovery. He lends his chess player’s brain to solving a locked room mystery with a difference, ably assisted by Detective-Inspector Arkwright. Was the murderer the theatrical Mrs. Vallon? Or little Mr. Cattistick, who recognized the fortune in jewels around the dead woman’s neck? Or perhaps it was Sir Richard Pomfrey, the subject of an unusually venomous look from Mrs Miller shortly before her demise? Death in the Dentist’s Chair was first published in 1932. This new edition, the first in many decades, includes an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

Also recommended without reservation:

The Crime at the Noah’s Ark: “There’ll be blue murder here before Christmas!” A number of parties heading for a luxurious holiday spot, are forced by severe winter weather to put up at the ‘Noah’s Ark’, a hostelry they will share with Dr. Constantine, a shrewd chess master and keen observer of all around him. Other guests include bestselling novelist Angus Stuart, the aristocratic Romsey family, a pair of old spinster sisters, and a galloping major whose horseplay gets him into hot water – and then gets him murdered. Who is the masked intruder who causes such a commotion on the first night? Who has stolen Mrs van Dolen’s emeralds, and who has slashed everyone’s (almost everyone’s) car tyres? And are the murderer and thief one and the same, or are the guests faced with two desperate criminals hiding in plain sight in the snowbound inn? Dr. Constantine, aided by two of the younger guests, is compelled to investigate this sparkling Christmas mystery before anyone else ends up singing in the heavenly choir …

The Draycott Murder Mystery: There was something about those hands, with their strangely crisped fingers, as though they had been arrested in the very act of closing, that somehow gave the lie to the woman’s attitude of sleep. A howling gale … A lonely farmhouse … the tread of a mysterious stranger … and then the corpse of a beautiful blonde, seemingly stopped in the act of writing. This is all a bit much for local bobby PC Gunnet, especially when it seems the dead – and aristocratic – woman shouldn’t even have been there in the first place. But nonetheless the owner of the farm, John Leslie, is convicted, and his guilt looks certain. Certain, that is, until the eccentric Allen “Hatter” Fayre, an old India hand, begins to look more deeply into the case and discovers more than one rival suspect in this classic and satisfying puzzler.





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A 99-cent classic from Mary Roberts Rinehart

 

StaircaseMary Roberts Rinehart created the “Had I But Known” sub-genre in detective fiction with her classic The Circular Staircase, and it is one of my favorite classic mysteries.

I’d heard of Rinehart for decades, of course, but her mysteries weren’t sitting on shelves in the brick-and-mortar stores — nor on the shelves at the local libraries which place a premium on newly published — so ebooks gave me my first chance to read Rinehart, and  The Circular Staircase was my first. I loved it — I laughed, I savored the now-classic elements, and I wanted to read more. A lot more. I hope you do, too.

You can, of course, find free public domain editions, but this particular edition, sold by HarperCollins, is professionally (and properly) formatted. I think it’s well worth $0.99 (USD) if your budget permits.

Description:  When Rachel takes a country house for the summer with her niece and nephew, she expects to fill her days with relaxing social activities. But these plans take a turn for the sinister when, on the second night, a dead body is found at the bottom of the house’s circular staircase.

Mary Roberts Rinehart (August 12, 1876 – September 22, 1958) was an American writer, often called the American Agatha Christie, although her first mystery novel was published 14 years before Christie’s first novel in 1922. Rinehart is credited with creating the phrase “The butler did it” with her novel The Door (1930), although the exact phrase isn’t used in the novel. She also created a costumed super-criminal called “the Bat”, cited by Bob Kane as one of the inspirations for his “Batman”.

FREE bonus book:  She by H. Rider Haggard

H. Rider Haggard’s classic tale of fantasy and adventure set in a lost world ruled by a two-thousand-year-old queen
FREE when posted -- verify before purchase, please!
FREE when posted — verify before purchase, please!

Description:  On the occasion of his twenty-fifth birthday, Leo Vincey opens the locked iron box that is his birthright and finds an ancient potsherd. Following clues engraved on the relic, Vincey and the man who raised him, Cambridge professor Horace Holly, embark on a remarkable adventure that will take them from Victorian England to an uncharted region in East Africa. Surviving shipwreck, disease and hostile natives, they discover a lost civilization no European has ever encountered—or lived to describe. They have entered the realm of the cruel and beautiful Ayesha, known to those who worship her as “She-who-must-be-obeyed.” For two thousand years, the white queen has been waiting—for what, Vincey and Holly are about to find out.

One of the bestselling novels of all time, She has held readers in its thrall for more than a century. Alongside Haggard’s other classic, King Solomon’s Mines, it established the conventions of the lost world fantasy genre, and has inspired some of the greatest thinkers and writers, including Sigmund Freud, J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Atwood and even popular mystery writer Elizabeth Peters, who decided to create her best-selling Amelia Peabody series because nobody was still writing novels like this — and she had read all that had been written earlier.

She, A History of Adventure, was originally published in The Graphic magazine in serial form between October 1886 and January 1887 and has never been out of print, with more than 96 million copies sold in 44 different languages to date.

Also available free (when posted, please verify before purchase), is this illustrated edition: