Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: Ronald Standish by Sapper

by Mary

Narrated by Bob Miller, this collection of short stories involves his friend Ronald Standish. Wealthy and something of a sportsman -- particularly keen on golf and cricket -- Standish only takes cases that interest him and having done so persists until he solves them or, according to Miller and unusually for amateur detectives, must own himself beaten. His greatest assets when investigations are afoot are an excellent memory for faces and unusual facts and a talent for noticing small details others have missed.

In this entertaining work, Miller relates several investigations undertaken by Standish.

THE CREAKING DOOR tells what it knows and thus aids the discovery of the culprit when an artist is murdered after a scene precipitated by his kissing a girl against her will. The story ends with a rather nasty twist.

THE MISSING CHAUFFEUR works for the Duke of Dorset and has done a bunk the week before Grand Duke Sergius of Russia is due to stay for a few days. A letter written in blood arrives...

Visiting the small Cornish town of St Porodoc, Standish and Miller hear a strange tale from a young curate who sees a ghost in THE HAUNTED RECTORY. A garden snail points to the solution of the mystery.

Love's young dream is thwarted by lack of cash, and when a valuable tiara is stolen only the suspect's beloved believes him innocent. It takes A MATTER OF TAR to show who was really responsible for the theft and associated assault.

The sister of one of Standish's fellow cricket-players consults the detective about her new neighbour, who runs a boarding kennel but mistakes an Irish terrier for an Airedale -- and reacts with fury when corrected. And whose is the terrified face seen peering from a window of THE HOUSE WITH THE KENNELS?

Standish is consulted about a letter his client's uncle received instructing certain papers be left in a specified place. Not long afterwards the uncle fell to his death, his son came into the estate, is sent an identical communication, and in turns dies. What will THE THIRD MESSAGE say?

It takes Standish some thought to solve THE MYSTERY OF THE SLIP COACH, wherein a man is found shot to death on a train with a smashed egg splashed about his compartment in a nice example of the locked room mystery.

An extremely unpopular village resident is found murdered and nobody mourns him. It looks bad for the man with more than one reason for a grudge against the departed. THE SECOND DOG provides the clue clinching the solution to a case of revenge....

Threats from Indian priests over disrespectful behaviour toward temple dancing girls follow a man who has returned to England and who now fears for the safety of his niece at the hands of THE MAN IN YELLOW seen flitting about the house and yet never found.

A blackmailing cur is brought to book by THE MAN WITH SAMPLES in a story getting my vote for the best in the collection, not least because of the method used to catch him, which neatly sidesteps a situation in which as is usual with blackmail his victims are very reluctant to involve the police.

When a retired businessman purchases THE EMPTY HOUSE and arranges for its renovation, incidents of vandalism begin and he receives warnings he will regret taking up residence, escalating in an attempt to run him down. Yet what could be the reason?

An obnoxious landowner is found drowned in THE TIDAL RIVER and a young man is brought to trial on charges of murdering him in what appears to be an open and shut case. But Standish casts his line out for other fish...

My verdict: An enjoyable read presenting challenges of various degrees to those who enjoy trying to guess whodunnit. Standish is more of a cerebral detective than a scientific sleuth, which will add interest for those who like their crimes solved without bubbling test tubes or advanced electrical whatnots getting involved.

e-text: Ronald Standish by Sapper

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