Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Evidence of Things Seen - Elizabeth Daly

First published 1943; cover shown is the 1983 Bantam Books (USA) paperback edition. Cover art by Ziemiens. 168p.

Elizabeth Daly (1878 - 1967) was said to be one of Agatha Christie's favourite writers. They shared a similar readership base, both writing 'cosy', civilised mysteries, with many set during WWII. Daly was over 60 when she began to write mystery novels.

Evidence of Things Seen features Daly's series detective, Henry Gamadge. Gamadge is apparently a bibliophile, an expert on old books. There was no evidence of that in this novel, the fifth in the series. He is married to Clara, who is some 15 or so years his junior. His occupation - a mysterious overseas war office/FBI posting - is only hinted at, never confirmed.

Gamadge doesn't appear in the novel until page 50, giving Daly time to stage a haunting and a murder, as well as develop a number of the central characters. When Gamadge does arrive at the quaint cottage he has rented for the summer in the Berkshires, he finds that Clara is the chief suspect in the murder of Miss Radford, a local spinster and the owner of the cottage.

Gamadge sets out to discover the true killer, firstly investigating the 'haunting' of the cottage by Miss Radford's dead sister in the week preceding the murder. Once that has been sorted, he moves on to the mystery of Miss Radford's missing money - all seventy thousand of it. The money, the haunting and the murder are all connected, and Gamadge uses common sense and well honed detection skills to solve the case before the inquest. I'd like to think Daly was a tad unfair when it comes to the murderer, as the identity and the reasoning for the killing came a bit out of the blue for me.


gladdog said...

Hello Kay,
Please let me know on the evidence of this book is Elizabeth Daly worth me investing in her books or is the jury still out? Who is Beans mate?
I have recently bought (on a whim) an Earl Derr Biggers book, that is to say a Charlie Chan mystery, maybe I am becomming nostalgic in my old age but I seam to have fond memories of the old black and white films.

The Face at the Window said...

Hi Phil,
I'd say the jury's still out; it was interesting but slow to get into - not up there with Marsh or Christie or Branch etc. I'm expecting another Daly book to arrive through BookMooch next month, and will post an entry about that one too.
I haven't read any of the Charlie Chan series... what are they like? I was thinking I should read one of G K Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries sometime soon. Have you tried any of them?
Bean's mate is Fox, my sister's Kelpie. Fox is the film star of the family, because he had a small part in the recent Eric Bana film 'Romulus, My Father'. Bean helps keep his ego in check!
All the best,