Series: Albert Campion #6
Published by Amazon.com Services LLC on July 14, 2019 (first published 1934)
Genres: Vintage Mystery
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John Sebastian Lafcadio’s ambition to be known as the greatest painter since Rembrandt was not to be thwarted by a matter as trifling as his own death.
A set of twelve sealed paintings is left in the hands of his widow, together with the instruction that she unveil one canvas each year before a carefully selected audience.
Albert Campion is invited to join a cast of gadabouts, muses, and socialites to witness the eighth unveiling but they are treated instead to a murder. The lights go down, and a young man is stabbed to death.
Campion must get to work on the baffling case, with its long - suspiciously long - line-up of possible killers and soon finds himself having to face his dearest enemy...
I do have a fondness for mysteries involving art. In Death of a Ghost, a young artist is killed at the showing of a painting, not his painting, one of his mentor’s, Lafcadio. Lafcadio, before he died, left instructions to have one of his paintings that he had boxed up shown each year beginning several years after his death, and his wishes have been faithfully carried out by his widow- quite a strong woman by the way, the kind of woman who takes everything life throws at her, straightens her shoulders, and carries on. Campion, luckily, was at the party/showing, so even though he didn’t actually witness the murder, as a friend of the family he takes an interest in the mystery.
There is a lot of art talk in this one, which I find fascinating. I even took a picture of at least one page and sent it to Amber, since the description of the area where the paint was mixed just struck me as so similar to the studios now.
I don’t know if this is really a mystery or more of a thriller. We, along with Campion and Oates from Scotland Yard, know who the killer is fairly quickly. Proving it is an altogether different matter, especially when the motive is unclear. And the villain is very intelligent. We get an especially good scene where the killer pretty much has Campion at his mercy as they travel across London. Happily, Campion is not as vacuous as he sometimes makes himself seem.
This was a really enjoyable book. I love these “Golden Age” mysteries. It’s a clever puzzle with memorable characters. I didn’t particularly like the very, very end, but that’s a minor quibble.