Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Octagon House by Phoebe Atwood Taylor


Quanomet was a forgotten hamlet on Cape Cod. While other towns on the Cape had flourished, Quanomet had gone down hill. Then Quanomet gained a brand new large post office, and in that post office was a mural which made every citizen either laugh or grow very angry because it was filled with caricatures of the leading citizens of the town. The mural had been painted by Jack Lorne, with the possible assistance of his wife Marina. Quite possibly it might have been the reason why Marina was found stabbed to death with a knife which belonged to her sister Pam Frye.

Enter Asey Mayo who had been called "The Hayseed Sherlock" and The "Homespun Sleuth" by the newspapers who had reported on crimes which he has solved. He was a good friend of Pam Frye who had just had come into a great piece of luck. She had found a very large piece of ambergris on the shore. This ambergris would bring in enough money to solve the financial problems of Pam and her father. Unfortunately, Marina, who was greedy and selfish, also knew about the ambergris and wanted a very large amount if not all of the money. Then the ambergris  disappeared. Pam had hidden it, and somebody else had found the hiding place and stolen it.

Asey uses his folksy ways and knowledge of the area to try to solve both the murder and to locate the ambergris. There will also be another murder, and some fires. This book is a cozy written in 1937. The characters are curious and the descriptions of the crimes is rather mild. Octagon houses were built in the United States starting in 1850, and there is still one existing in Barnstable on Cape Cod.

The book has been reissued by Foul Play Press, and is available at Amazon.

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