My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I visited my elderly uncle two summers ago and he implored me to take some of his collection of old paperback mysteries off his hands. I gladly absconded with several Ngaio Marsh, G.K. Chesterton, Earl Derr Biggers and Agatha Christie.
This was one of them. The edition I read doesn't exist on Goodreads. It's tiny. Pocketsize, truly, from when we carried books around to entertain us instead of smartphones. Dell. 1959. 35 cents.
It wasn't typical Christie. No Poirot. No Marple. Superintendent Battle appears (in fact, it is now listed as Battle #1 on many lists) but he is not the main sleuth. There IS no main, sleuth, really. The story revolves less around a central figure-out-er and more around a delicious cast of characters.
Originally written in 1925, the between-the-wars intrigue is palpable. A Balkan country called Herzoslovakia. Deposed monarchs. A group called the Red Hand. British imperialism in Africa.
Patently dated but completely enjoyable along the lines of one of my top five favorite Christie novels Man in the Brown Suit and Mary Stewart's Madam, Will You Talk?.
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