Sunday, September 24, 2017

#5 - The Mystery of Burnleigh Manor by Walter Livingston (1930)


About this edition: Published in 1930. A preview chapter of #6 - The Invisible Host by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning is included in the back of the book.

About the author: Walter Livingston is also the author of The Mystery of Villa Sineste, #19 in the Mystery League series.

  • Edward Burnleigh, eldest of the three brothers, died by own hand 16 years previously
  • Lord Cecil Burnleigh, middle brother, now owner of Burnleigh Manor
  • Robert Burleigh, youngest brother, disappeared with Edward's wife 21 years previously
  • Lady Burnleigh, wife of Edward; disappeared with Robert 21 years previously
  • Glome, Cecil's servant
  • Hooper, Edward's servant
  • --- Riker, American architect, hired by Cecil to examine the Manor and plan for its restoration
  • Captain Lowry, caretaker of the Manor and Lodge, resides in the Lodge
  • Edith Lowry, his daughter

Locale: England

Timeline: A bit confusing but this seems to be the background:
  • 21 years prior to story: Robert runs off with Lady Burnleigh (Edward's wife). Cecil searches for him without success.
  • 16 years prior to story: Edward dies by his own hand on Christmas Eve. The Manor passes to Cecil.
  • Present: Lord Cecil arrives with Riker to plan the Manor's restoration.


Hmmm... well, it's not a murder mystery. No one gets murdered.

The story focuses on Burnleigh Manor, now a rundown boarded-up relic, along with the Lodge, a smaller well-kept residence at the gate on the same grounds. The Manor was the property of the eldest brother, Edward, until his death; when it passed to Cecil. The youngest brother, Robert, had run off with Edward's wife (Lady Burnleigh), both without a trace. Five years later, Edward dies by his own hand on Christmas Eve. The story begins sixteen years later.

Cecil, now owner of Burnleigh Manor, contracts with an American architect, -- Riker, to examine the manor and plan for its restoration. There are reports of intruders in the boarded-up Manor, with footprints found inside and some items missing.

Cecil and Riker arrive at the Manor. Riker is attracted to Emily Lowry, but she is aloof; yet constantly attracted to the Manor. As Riker begins his inspection,  he deals with trouble-making intruders who thoughtfully leave him little treatening notes (Phantom of the Opera style) and disappear down secret passages. The questions are: 
  • Whatever happened to Robert and Lady Burnleigh? 
  • Who is the person (s) still accessing the Manor, and how do they do it? 
  • So what is troubling Edith, anyway?


Please see this review by Bev Hankins on her blog, My Reader's Block.

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