by S.S. Van Dine. ‘Philo Vance takes a hand when, in an evening, one daughter of the Greene family is shot to death and another one is wounded. The family comprises two sons and three daughters (the youngest, Ada, is adopted) under the rule of their mother, a bedridden invalid who spends her days feeling sorry for herself and cursing her ungrateful children. The family is required to live in the Greene mansion under the terms of their father’s will. The German cook seems strangely attached to the adopted daughter, and other hangers-on include the mother’s physician, who is courting Sibella Greene, and the enigmatic butler.‘
First published in 1928, my copy was published in 1929 and included pictures from the film version that was released that year. You can watch the whole movie HERE. It’s the third in the Philo Vance series. I enjoyed this read. The characters did nothing for me, but the mystery itself kept me reading to the end as it was a good puzzler. Many old murder cases and criminology books were mentioned throughout and I looked them up to see if they were fictional or real and they were real ones. That made it more interesting. The crime in this story was quite complex.
On pages 320-327 Philo Vance sets down a chronological list of
the cases facts trying to get a clearer picture of what exactly happened, much like our modern TV detectives use the large white board to connect the facts. There were many footnotes throughout the book made by the narrator, S.S. Van Dine, about the books referenced or people referenced from the previous Phil Vance stories. Once the murders are solved he notes the sequence Vance had finally arranged these facts on the list in, to help him solve the murders. Different and ingenius.
A most satisfying read and now I’m off to watch the 1929 movie on Youtube!