Wednesday, January 10, 2018

#17 - The Merrivale Mystery by James Corbett

About this edition: This edition contains a teaser of the first chapter of the next edition (The Tunnel Mystery by J. C. Lenehan).

About the author: James Corbett (1887-1958): Be careful - there are least three authors named James Corbett. This is not the one who wrote about hunting in Africa, or the history of football. states Corbett is the "author of popular thrillers for the lending-library market ... his identity has not been clearly established.This James Corbett is the subject of the article Thriller Author James Corbett’s Mystery Writing Genius by William F. Deeck; which provides a list of many of Corbett's amazing sentences. 

Principal characters:

  • Sir Philip Merrivale, the baronet - dies in the first sentence of the book
  • Lady Sybil Merrivale, the beautiful young widow
  • Stephen Merrivale, brother of Sir Philip
  • Henry Merrivale, lawyer
  • George Merrivale, an invalid confined to his room
  • Dr. Frank Merrivale, the only Merrivale who lives elsewhere
  • Proust, the French servant, who listens at keyholes
  • Tabitha, sister of Lady Merrivale
  • Cecil, brother of Lady Merrivale
  • Lillian, cousin of Lady Merrivale
  • Victor Serge, the famous detective
  • Ralph Moreton, novelist, friend of Serge
  • Frank Bancroft of Scotland Yard


Synopsis: First off, this book has nothing to do with Sir Henry Merrivale, a fictional detective created by "Carter Dickson", a pen name of John Dickson Carr.

Detective Victor Serge is called in to investigate the death of Sir Philip Merrivale, found shot to death in Merrivale Hall. He brings along his friend and companion Ralph Moreton. Merrivale Hall is chock full of various relatives, and the word is that they all hate each other. He interviews Lady Sybil Merrivale, now a beautiful young widow; who immediately claims he was shot by his brother, Stephen. Stephen, of course, accuses Sybil. Stephen himself is likewise shot, even before the body of Philip can be removed.

No one wants to discuss why all the Merrivales live together, other than there is a 'secret arrangement' by which those in residence receive lavish monthly allowances; and no one will discuss who really owns Merrivale Hall, or pays for its operaton and the allowances.