Friday, July 06, 2007

Philip MacDonald: The Choice (1931).

As a follow-up to my blog entry on Philip MacDonald's The Rasp, I'll feature another in the Anthony Gethryn series, The Choice (aka The Polferry Riddle and The Polferry Mystery).

In The Choice, the wife of a doctor is found one stormy night with her throat cut. Now the occupants of the remote house are being bumped off one by one, and Gethryn, who has systematically eliminated possible suspects, is stumped as to the perpetrator of these crimes. When another of the house occupants is kidnapped, Gethryn and Scotland Yard embark on a wild chase, and Gethryn eventually figures out the answer.

Like The Rasp, The Choice features paternal head-patting of female characters, although the kidnap victim, Susan Kerr, who is described as "very small and very charming," displays a calmer sensibility than her hysterical fiance. Also like The Rasp, The Choice has sudden turns and illuminating writing by MacDonald, such as "[t]he yellow flood of light swayed back, rushed through the doorway; sent flying the darkness between the doorway and the waiting men..." The Choice is a good choice for those who enjoy 1930s puzzle mysteries.

Leo Harris, who introduced the 1994 Chivers reprint of The Choice, stated that he could not understand the reason for the title, but I think it refers to a certain decision by the doctor's wife.

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