Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: How — Death by knife/dagger/etc.
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #12
Monthly Key Word: If
Date Finished: January 28, 2018
Originally published as Black for the Baron under Creasey’s Anthony Morton pseudonym, this mystery finds the Baron, John Mannering, visiting a wealthy manor house in the British countryside to examine the collection of antiques and artworks, many of which have been surreptitiously replaced by replicas. Hester, the daughter of a neighboring farm family, is somewhat involved with the son of the manor house’s owner. She has also been stealing from her family’s cash box in order to pay a blackmailer. When the blackmailer turns up dead with a knife wound soon after Hester has been seen with him, the police begin a manhunt for her. Mannering investigates both the murder and the thefts, while warding off violent attacks against both himself and others.
A fairly successful and suspenseful mystery from Creasey. The Mannering character has almost completely left his earlier jewel thief background behind and is a fairly straightforward crimefighter/detective here. With Creasey’s prodigious output, one is afraid of getting a rushed and slapdash effort, but I did not find that to be the case here at all. Hester’s mother is a bit shrill, but we leave her largely behind after chapter five. The resolution is a bit of a let down, as the main criminal dies off screen, but the suspense, including the imminent danger by fire that Hester finds herself in (as pictured on the cover above), works rather well.