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The Sweepstake Murders

Page history last edited by J F Norris 11 years, 10 months ago

Connington, JJ - The Sweepstake Murders (1931)

 

 

Review by Nick Fuller

4/5

A sound detective story of the sort “which presented itself as a mere puzzle to be solved, like a chess problem, without any regard for the feelings of the pieces on the board,” including the murdered members of the Novem Syndicate, one of whom fell down a cliff and whose time of death was proven by an ingenious camera device, and two others who died in impossible accidents. Driffield appears only at the beginning and the end, but brings the case to a satisfying conclusion, based mainly on cameras and typewriters. An alert reader should be able to spot the murderer’s identity without difficulty, although the plot is over-elaborate, with too many red herrings and too much planning on the murderer’s part.

 


 

My first Sir Clinton Driffield mystery.  An excellent detective novel, very reminiscent of the scientific detection novels that were popular at the time.  Plot involves a syndicate of nine men who go in on a sweepstake ticket.  Their group is drawn on a long shot horse who manages to place in the derby race they are betting on.  They win over £200,000 but the holder of the ticket dies in an airplane crash and this leads to a legal dispute.  One of the members decides it is in the syndicate's best interests to draw up a document which states that only living members of the syndicate can draw from the winnings.  Then members of the syndicate start dying in bizarre accidents and a murderer is suspected among the survivors of the syndicate.  An intricate plot device involves a camera and a series of photographs that were taken at a geological formation where one of the murder victims was done in.  A clever inspector runs a photography experiment that focusses on the way shadows lie in the photos to prove that the murderer himself took the pictures in order for it to appear that the death occurred earlier in the day.  Truly one of the best novels of the Golden Age.  I was completely caught up in the story.  The culprit is easy to identify as the bodies pile up and the suspect pool diminishes, but the detection by both Driffield and the inspector (a smart policeman for a change!) is fascinating.

 

J.F. Norris 

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