As heir apparent to Dorothy L. Sayers, Dorothy Bowers' short but critically acclaimed career ended with her death at age 46 from tuberculosis. She wrote four Dan Pardoe novels between 1938 and 1941 to excellent reviews, and her final novel was published in 1947. She lived long enough to see her election to the prestigious Detection Club in 1948 and died shortly thereafter.
Someone has made three attempts on Archy Mitfold's life, because Archy knows something he shouldn't. When Inspector Dan Pardoe and Sergeant Tommy Salt are called in to investigate whether someone finally succeeded in killing Archy or if he took his own life, they find that Archy has left clues. There are several drawings of spotted birds, some with a hatchet. And there is Archy's red diary, but that is inconveniently missing. It is up to Dan and Salt to reconstruct the week that led up to Archy's death to find out if his death is linked to a pro-Nazi Nordic Bond or if something more sinister is at work:
"'The rope, Tommy-keep your eye on the rope,' said Pardoe, with a sudden grim vision of a second one at the end of the story. 'That was a piece of smart improvisation-quick thinking, speedy action, but improvisation all the same. Else he'd have brought rope with him, and if rope, why not a simpler weapon? As I read it it means the murderer had to think up that method at the last to ensure Mitfold died, and it tells us too, that he's a man familiar with the run of the house in Mulberry Fountain.'"
Dorothy Bowers manages to lead the reader into not only a world of enigmatic clues left by a man-child who has stumbled on to a murderous scheme concocted by someone very close. Bowers sets her writing bar very high, and the reader is bombarded with eloquence from the first page. Suspense and peril aren't far behind, and this is a case that has tentacles that go everywhere and has Scotland Yard's finest scratching their heads in dismay. Bowers leads both the police and the reader on a merry chase and skillfully succeeds in one of the finest points of mystery writing...the red herring. She firmly points the reader in one direction while Dan Pardoe and Sergeant Salt are forcefully building the case in a very different direction. The result, Bowers' second Dan Pardoe mystery is wonderfully entertaining and is a brain twister.