A deliciously anti-cozy tale of murder most multiplied that's perhaps the choicest blast yet from the past almost-masters of mystery resurrected by Poisoned Pen's British Library Crime Classics.(Kirkus Reviews)
With its caustic look at society, marriage and norms Family Matters is an impudent, lively novel, a delight to read.(Guy Savage NetGalley)
This deliciously sly murder mystery, first published in 1933, is an example of the "inverted" detective story in which we get to know the murderer before the crime is committed. In this case, there are two would-be murderers, one motivated by the hatred engendered by how her husband treats her, the other apparently motivated by sheer sociopathy. The hoped-for victim, Robert Arthur Kewdingham, is unappealing on every level. He ignores his family (wife and child) as they sink into genteel poverty, and he indulges himself in hypochondria, mysticism, bad temper, and what would now be described as hoarding (but he labels it collecting). His young wife starts adding lead acetate to his food. His doctor (whose elderly aunt and invalid wife both died suddenly) brews up an experimental blend of aluminum chlorate for his patient. Part of the chilling fun of this book is found in the author's stark assessments of his murderous characters. We don't come to sympathize with them by knowing their interior worlds; we watch their movements in shock from the outside. The other part of the fun is observing how the wife's and doctor's plans unwittingly counteract each other. A first-rate reissue from the British Library Crime Classics series, very much along the lines of two of Freeman Wills Crofts' inverted mysteries from the same series, The 12.30 from Croydon and Antidote to Venom. (starred review)(Connie Fletcher Booklist)
About the Author
Anthony Rolls was a pseudonym of C.E. Vulliamy (1886-1971), a biographer, soldier and archaeologist of distinction who also wrote ten crime novels, four of which were published during the golden age of British detective fiction between the world wars.