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Leo Bruce

Dead for a Ducat

Peter Davies 1956
Jacket artwork by Biro

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READERS will be delighted to be advised that it seems unlikely that Carolus Deene will ever be allowed by fate to complete a term of his duties as Senior History Master at Queen's School, Newminster, without having constant calls on his indubitable brilliance at criminal investigation. The calm of this particular term is ruffled one evening when he is rung up shortly before midnight and asked by old Lady Pipford—one of the school governors, incidentally—to come up to her home, Mincott House, where her son-in-law Darryl Montac-cord has apparently just shot himself. The clouds begin to appear when Carolus— differing from the police—becomes convinced it's a case of murder ; the storm is upon us when another dead body is found—and then another—the work of a homicidal maniac? Suspicion falls on this character and then on that as the extremely ingenious plot develops ; and what memorable characters they are ! If one selects as the choicest, Alicia Crick, with her loud cracked laugh and her passion for bottling and pickling every kind of garden produce, others may prefer the precocious schoolboy Rupert Priggley, the taciturn semi-gamekeeper Swillow, the big jocular vicar the Reverend Selwyn Fleece, or the ubiquitous Mr Monty Boater. In Dead for a Ducat there is ideal entertainment : laughter, suspense and intense satisfaction at the close as the final piece goes into a brilliantly variegated jigsaw puzzle.

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