Death of a Mystery Writer: A Murder Mystery (Of Course) (Scribner Crime Classics)
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From master mystery writer Robert Barnard, one of his early novels, Death of a Mystery Writer.
First published in 1979, Death of a Mystery Writer received an Edgar Award nomination for "Best Novel" of that year. It's with great pleasure that Scribner reissues this beloved novel from one of the most respected names in crime writing.
Sir Oliver Fairleigh-Stubbs, overweight and overbearing, collapses and dies at his birthday party while indulging his taste for rare liquors. He had promised his daughter he would be polite and charitable for the entire day, but the strain of such exemplary behavior was obviously too great. He leaves a family relieved to be rid of him, and he also leaves a fortune, earned as a bestselling mystery author.
To everyone's surprise, Sir Oliver's elder son, who openly hated his father, inherits most of the estate. His wife, his daughter, and his younger son are each to receive the royalties from one carefully chosen book. But the manuscript of the unpublished volume left to Sir Oliver's wife -- a posthumous "last case" that might be worth millions -- has disappeared. And Sir Oliver's death is beginning to look less than natural.
Into this bitter household comes Inspector Meredith, a spirited Welshman who in some ways resembles Sir Oliver's fictional hero. In Robert Barnard's skillful hands, Inspector Meredith's investigation becomes not only a classic example of detection but an elegant and humorous slice of crime.
Mark did not seem entirely to have been following, but he said: “You’ve got to have contacts.” “One of them,” continued Sir Oliver, after giving his son what was intended as a kindly look, “was your cousin Darcy, my dear—” “Oh, dear, Darcy—” “Yes, well, perhaps not a happy topic of conversation, but I met you at his place, you remember. And we were engaged within the month. Ah, Terence—and Bella!” Oliver Fairleigh’s two younger children came in together, chattering happily. Both were
years, and this is the first time I’ve encountered a real murder.” It didn’t seem to upset him. “When you went into the study, was the cabinet with the liqueurs in it already unlocked?” “No, Sir Oliver unlocked it himself.” “And afterward?” “He locked it himself as I got up to leave. He was very particular about it, and I noticed it specially.” “Why did you notice it?” “Well, to tell you the truth, I’d heard rumors about his son, and I wondered whether that was the reason.” “I see,” said
you, or conduct ridiculous inquisitions: ‘Who’s your favorite author?’ ‘George Eliot, sir.’ ‘Who’s he? Never heard of him. Explain who he is.’ ‘It’s a woman, sir—’ And so on, until eventually he would be maintaining that she was a disguised criminal in hiding from the police, or a music hall artist specializing in drag. It’s quite funny in retrospect, but it was awful at the time.” “There are ways of doing things like that,” agreed Meredith. “Exactly,” said Ben. “And of course he wasn’t trying
secretary yesterday,” said Meredith. “Oh, yes, Miss Thorrington.” “She confessed to enjoying Sir Oliver’s books. She obviously prefers her entertainment to be frankly enjoyable—doesn’t like all these forensic details one gets these days.” The Edinburgh Terror gave him a look which said that but for Loyalty to the Firm she would have told him what she thought of Miss Thorrington’s literary opinions. She turned to go back to her ancient Olivetti, but Meredith said pleasantly: “I suppose Sir
with?” “No—of course not. Just how she’s doing, and so on—who her friends are. Girls will tell things to their mother that they wouldn’t tell anyone else.” It struck Oliver Fairleigh that his wife had a genius for hitting on generalizations that were the exact opposite of the truth, but he was used to her combination of woolly thinking and unjustified optimism, and he seldom bit her head off more than three or four times a day, so he left her in her comfortable delusion. “Well, I’m glad boys