Murder at Beechlands by Maureen Sarsfield

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Inspector parry thought he’d stumbled into a lunatic asylum instead of a hotel.
  ‘Inspector Lane Parry of Scotland Yard finds himself on a busman’s holiday when he is forced to take refuge from a heavy snowstorm in a country hotel while traveling in Sussex in January 1948. When he first glimpses the hotel guests frolicking in the snow, he mistakes them for lunatics at play. Instead, he learns that they are all gusts invited to attend a homecoming party for a war hero.

  But when the battered body of Wing commander Lawton Lawrence turns up in the snow, Parry realizes that playtime is over and that a murderer is walking the halls of Beechlands. It doesn’t take Parry long to recognize that virtually everyone in the hotel had reason to see Lawty dead. He may have cut a ashing figure chasing German bombers and fighters in the skies over London, but he was also something of a cad and any number of women and their husbands had reason to want him dead.

  Suspects include the hotel’s bosomy and debt-ridden owner, a thief-turned-waiter, a French chef who never saw Paris, a Hollywood actress with a perpetually open mouth, two potential investors in the hotel, a woman given to wearing scanty dresses, a cuckolded husband, and a young woman whose ‘brown mouse’ demeanor conceals a clever brain as well as a forlorn heart.

  Murder at Beechlands was first published in 1948 in England as A Party for None and in the United States a A Party for Lawty. Inspector Parry’s only other appearance was in Murder at Shots Hall (originally Green December Fills the Graveyard) in 1945.’

This is a wonderful vintage mystery! Full of quirky characters, an old hotel, and a ferocious snow storm. Right up my alley! Inspector Lane is a great character. I only wish there were more tales from the pen of Maureen Sarsfield. After two, well received, mysteries she dropped from sight. No information has been found about her life or what happened to her.

Just because this tale is full of quirky people and lots of wonderful humor doesn’t mean it’s not a great mystery too. Well plotted out and lots of good clues all along. I think you’ll enjoy it! Not only was I anxious to get to the end to see who did it, but I had to find out why in heavens name Cintra’s mouth was always gaping wide open!

Rue Morgue has reprinted both Ms. Sarsfield mysteries, but for some reason, this one is no longer in print at Rue Morgue either. You will have to find a used copy. I have both mysteries and both of my copies are used Rue Morgue editions in like new condition.

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