Ted Lyte is an amateur thief who makes the mistake of trying to rise about his earlier crimes and break into a house. It turns out to be a big mistake. He breaks into a locked room in Haven House where he finds the bodies of seven people, six men and a woman. There's also a note that says, "With apologies from the Suicide Club." The panicked petty thief is fleeing when he's accosted by journalist and yachstman Thomas Hazeldean. Hazeldean keeps him there until Detective Inspector Kendall can talk with him. When they enter the house, Thomas becomes fascinated by the picture of Dora Fenner, a member of the family who owns the house.
While Kendall investigates on the British end, Hazeldean heads to Boulogne, France, following Dora Fenner's trail. It's in France that the story goes astray. Until then, it seems to be a locked room mystery. Who or what killed the seven people in that locked room? Once the story goes to France, it becomes a melodramatic story of past history.
Seven Dead is a leisurely paced mystery with an elaborate storyline. While the discovery at Haven House is disturbing, that is really just a puzzle to be solved. But, the twisted ending is bothersome.
I'm a fan of these British crime classics. It's interesting to read early practitioners and watch their development of the mystery. But, as I said, I just found the ending of Seven Dead to be strange. The beginning of the book is much better than the weird conclusion.
Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon. Poisoned Pen Press, 2018. ISBN 9781464209086 (paperback), 240p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.