From Publishers Weekly
Set in 1924, Gordon-Smith's fifth Jack Haldean mystery (after 2010's A Hundred Thousand Dragons) gets off to a sluggish start, but the later, near-manic pace more than compensates. When the butler and chauffeur of entrepreneur Charles Otterbourne, whose company is about to manufacture a machine that will record and play sound electronically, hear a gun shot, they rush to their master's study, where they find him dead on the hearthrug, with Alan Carrington, the machine's eccentric inventor, kneeling nearby, gun in hand. When Carrington later commits suicide in prison, the case appears closed. But an alarming number of murders all somehow connected to the Otterbourne family deeply troubles Scotland Yard's Insp. Bill Rackham, who turns for help to his friend and confidant, detective fiction writer Jack Haldean. Haldean's impish wit, charming manner, and imaginative flights of fancy bring cohesion and sparkle to a busy plot at risk of drowning in a sea of red herrings. (Apr.)
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In Stoke Horam in 1920s England, Charles Otterbourne owns a paternalistic company, New Century Works, which manufactures gramophones, typewriters, and telephones. However, the principled, philanthropic Otterbourne is suspected by his accountant of embezzling company pension funds. When Andrew Dunbar and the eccentric Professor Alan Carrington approach Otterbourne about purchasing Dunbar�s company to get the rights to Carrington�s new invention, an electrical recording system, Otterbourne is murdered at the meeting, apparently by Carrington. Did he really do it? Who else would want Otterbourne dead? Was it personal or professional? When Dunbar is also murdered, Carrington�s son, Gerard, becomes the chief suspect. Inspector William Rackham consults writer Jack Haldean to help him unravel the mystery. Plot twists, deductive reasoning, step-by-step investigation, and details of the newly invented electrical recording system add to this leisurely paced British mystery. --Sue O'Brien