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The Circular Study

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 1 month ago

Green, Anna Katherine - The Circular Study (1900)




Oh joy, oh rapture! A mystery with a plan of the titular study!


What's more, the novel takes off at a brisk gallop. Octogenarian New York detective Ebenezer Gryce goes to Mr Adams' mansion after word of a crime there reaches the police department. And what does he find on entering the circular study? In the tapestry-hung, book-lined room with lighting whose colour can be changed at the press of a button, a room filled with curios and dominated by the portrait of a beautiful woman, lies a murdered man with a golden cross on his chest.


There were two witnesses: a deaf mute servant who has become mentally unbalanced by the sight and repeatedly re-enacts the murder and a talking bird described as an English starling, evidently a parrot, for it mimics speech.


Clues? Well, there's a scattering of rose leaves and several black sequins in the study, a pearl-handled parasol left behind, and a silver comb on the floor of the otherwise immaculately tidy bedroom opening off the study. Tracing whoever had been there is a tall task given the size of the city but Detective Gryce begins it, aided by Amelia Butterworth, an aristocratic and occasionally sharp tongued spinster of a certain age who has been involved in Gryce's investigations before, and his young assistant Sweetwater.


My verdict: This case is one solved by reasoning, and very clever reasoning it is. The explanations of how certain persons of interest are traced is a particularly interesting demonstration of police leg work in the early l900s. I should mention the roots of the tragedy go back decades and are more gothic in nature than some mystery readers would prefer, but all in all I found The Circular Study a good read and recommend it.




Mary R

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