Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Girl From Scotland Yard by Edgar Wallace (1929)

also published as THE SQUARE EMERALD


dustjacket.com

About the author:  (Goodreads): Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (1875-1932) was a prolific British crime writer, journalist and playwright, who wrote 175 novels, 24 plays, and countless articles in newspapers and journals.

Edgar Wallace

Major characters:
  • Lady Jane Raytham
  • Anthony Druze, the Raytham's butler
  • Mrs. Greta Gurden
  • Peter Dawlish, convicted forger
  • Margaret Dawlish, Peter's mother
  • Princess Anita Bellini, Peter's aunt
  • Mrs. Inglethorne, Peter's landlady
  • Leslie Maughan, The Girl From Scotland Yard
  • Chief Inspector Josiah Coldwell
  • Lucretia Brown, Leslie's servant

Locale: London

Synopsis: Peter Dawlish is just released from serving a forgery sentence. Down and out, he is assisted with a small loan from perky Leslie Maughan, assistant to Chief Inspector Josiah Coldwell. While officially an "assistant", she is a detective in her own right.

Leslie has been checking up on Lady Jane Raytham following her substantial bank withdrawals. Lady Jane is annoyed, and does not cooperate - she prefers to spend time with Princess Anita Bellini, who is Peter Dawlish's aunt.

Leslie takes Peter under her wing and encourages him to re-enter society. Peter had been convicted of forging a check under his former employer, maintained his innocence, and suspected butler Anthony Druze of having committed the forgery; and causing his imprisonment.

Peter find a room lodging with Mrs. Inglethorne, who has a collection of rag-tag children. One girl, Elizabeth, becomes fond of Peter.

Druze is found dead on the street - shot. Peter Dawlish had the obvious motive - suspecting Druze of being the forger for which he was convicted. Leslie is convinced of his innocence, and seeks out the real murderer. In doing so, she finds that pretty much everyone has a secret to conceal.

Review:

Leslie Maughan is a treat - a confident investigator who follows her own trail. It is refreshing to find a female protagonist in books of this era, bringing to mind the Madame Rosika Storey series (list) by Hulbert Footner (see The Under Dogs), and the stories of Mary Roberts Rinehart.

Everyone in the story has a secret, and a couple of them are good ones. Druze's "handicap" is revealed, however, the reasoning behind it is not. This story has lots of threads and they are all tied up nicely at the end.



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