Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review: The Daffodil Mystery by Edgar Wallace

by Mary

Odette Rider loses her cashier job after she indignantly rejects a suggestion from Thornton Lyne, owner of the large store where she works, that they cohabit without benefit of clergy. As a result Lyne, a thoroughly mean-spirited man, plots to frame her for embezzlement of company funds even though he knows the real culprit is a departmental manager, Mr Milburgh.

Lyne's cousin Jack Tarling, late of the Shanghai Detective Service, has just opened an investigative agency in London's Bond Street and visits Lyne to discuss the Milburgh matter. When Tarling learns Lyne wants to pin Milburgh's defalcations on Miss Rider -- Milburgh of course being more than happy to go along with the idea -- he refuses to have anything to do with it.

Then Lyne is found murdered, his body laid out in Hyde Park with a pad formed from one of Miss Rider's nightgowns and some of her hankies used in an attempt to staunch his gunshot wound -- and a bunch of daffodils laid upon his chest. He is wearing slippers, and a small piece of red paper with Chinese characters written on it is in his waistcoat pocket, although that garment, his coat, and his boots are in his car a hundred yards away from his body. Tarling interprets the writing as saying Lyne brought trouble upon himself.

Then Miss Rider disappears...

My verdict: Readers' notions of likely suspects are cleverly led along until a plot twist turns them on their heads, while the machinations of Mr Milburgh will make some almost admire his cleverness -- until they learn the nasty depths of his nature. The murderer is the person most readers will least suspect. And will any of them be able to look a daffodil in the trumpet again without recalling their mental picture of the corpse in Hyde Park?

E-text: The Daffodil Mystery by Edgar Wallace

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