Mystery author #38: Elizabeth Daly

Title: Evidence of Things Seen
Series detective: Henry Gamadge, author and expert on rare books
No. in series: 5
Year of publication: 1943
Type of mystery: Murder, possibly supernatural
Type of investigator: Amateur sleuth
Setting & time: The Berkshires, NE-USA; 1940s

Mrs. Clara Gamadge is holidaying in the Berkshires. Her husband is away on government business and she is alone in a rented summer cottage with her maid. The two women feel a bit creeped out by a mysterious, ghostly figure in a sunbonnet that appears at sunset every 2-3 days, but not enough to flee the house. When the ‘ghost’ scares a horse outside the house, causing an accident in which the cottage’s owner is injured, they bring her into the house. During the night she is murdered, and the police seem to suspect Clara of having done it in a fit of madness. Her husband arrives at this point and immediately figures out whodunnit, but he needs proof, and spends the last half of the book looking for it (the villain is only revealed near the end).

It is perhaps telling that now, a month after I read the book, I can’t remember exactly how the story ended, that is, I don’t remember whether the killer was caught, killed or if he killed himself.
The plot is a classic Golden Era style ‘impossible crime’ puzzler, but the writing is unremarkable and the characterisations dull and I felt no compulsion to read it all the way through in one or even several sittings. I took it to work and read a chapter during my lunch hour and never felt I needed to take it home to read more. The killer’s identity was a surprise, for which the author gets a plus point, because he never occurred to me even though in retrospect his identity was obvious.

Rating: Good plot, dull characters, unremarkable prose. 2 stars.

About the author:
In the author intro at the back of the book it is said that Agatha Christie was a big fan of Daly’s, but although Daly’s books are being republished, she isn’t nearly as famous as her disginguished fan is today. I can’t really judge her as an author based on one book, so I think I will not try to analyse her writing now, but if I get the chance to read another of her books I may write an author review for her.


Anonymous said…
My rating: Excellent plot; good characterization; quality prose - 4stars. I think you ought to give her another try!
Bibliophile said…
I will get around to reading more of her books some time or other, but she's not really high up on my TBR list right now, seeing as I am juggling three reading challenges.

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