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‘Anything doing?’

‘Maybe,’ he said guardedly, and then as a kind of afterthought: ‘Just slipping along to Hampstead. Charles Manfrey’s dead.’

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Near the right temple was a hole, and down the forehead and along the nose was dried blood.

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It was Murder Eve, and I was the last person in Sandbeach to suspect it.

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“I have an idea that a certain man is going to commit murder. He told me so—in so many words.”

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The murderer was clever and the planning was perfect. There was apparently nothing that had been overlooked and nothing that didn’t go to plan. There was nothing that could be called a slip. Why then was the murderer caught?

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“Murder’s my job, not parish politics.”

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“At first it may seem an astounding coincidence that two members of a family should have considered it necessary to ask for the services of the same detective agency. I think I can prove otherwise, and even if I can’t, the facts remain. Alice Stonhill and Peter Wesslake did precisely what I have said, and what’s more . . .”

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I was thinking of offering Godfrey Prial some sort of partnership. I’m pretty sure now of at least two things—that he liked me, and that he’d have accepted. If he’d lived.

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He was deader than last year’s hit-song. At the side of the skull was where the bullet had done its work.

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“Famous Spiritualist Dead . . . Gun Found in Flat”

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“I want to catch them. To do that we’ve got to lead them on. Now listen to me.”

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Together they looked down at the inert sprawling figure of a man fantastically dressed in red-and-white-striped pyjama trousers, with a red sash belt and a white silk shirt open at the neck.

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It had been so quickly done that he felt almost as if a little knife had actually flashed by him and stuck, quivering, in the door at his back.

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Murder in the poisoned bosom of a genteel, if alarmingly dysfunctional, family in the English countryside.

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“We’ve managed to head off the Press men so far. But that won’t last. We can’t escape publicity, and the reading public enjoys murders.”

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“Not content with mucking up my front garden with corpses, you dare to suggest that the wretched creature passed out in my house!”

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“What earthly grounds are there for believing it to be murder! Great Scott, man! Accidental drowning is tragic enough! And the young lady, Miss Torrington, could swim like a fish too!”

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The plot takes Stephen on an amazing journey of subterfuge, secret codes, nightclubs, spies, rural England and romance.

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“Murder’s an ugly thing!” Detective Inspector Haig said. “Maybe you’ll not want to attend the funeral.”

As the door closed, Thelma said, “I know one funeral I wouldn’t mind attending.”

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“Jiminy! He’s going to fish for him.”

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Why should a holidaymaker, sitting to enjoy a game of village cricket, suddenly meet with death in the shape of a flying bullet?

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“I think you had better telephone for the police,” he said. “This woman has been poisoned.”

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At what point in the life of Edward Packman did the Angel of Death put his finger on him and say “You are mine!”?

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Rex Harrison’s fifth – but not last – wife, Elizabeth said of him: ‘I was very fond of Rex before we were married, and even more fond of him after we were married – it ws the bit in between that was so difficult.’

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‘I’m Scarface. I’m just about ten times as hard-boiled as Johnny Lovo ever thought of being. I’ve bumped off six or eight myself and another one – especially a rat like you – wouldn’t mean a thing in my young life. Get me?’

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