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Postscript to Poison (Golden Age Detective Novels) Paperback – 15 Mar 2005
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Mrs. Cornelia Lackland is an erstwhile actress who married above her station and was unfaithful to her husband. When he dies, she is in complete charge of her granddaughters by marriage, Jenny Hernshaw and Carol Quentin. Jenny and Carol live in complete subjugation to their selfish and arrogant grandmother's wishes. Dr. Tom Faithful, the doctor who is ministering to Cornelia, is a favorite of hers and figures into the story every step of the way. Cornelia changes her will on a whim every year or so and completely terrorizes not only her family but also the butler, parlormaid, and housemaid. But there is much more simmering under the surface, and the sudden poisoning of Mrs. Lackland gives Chief Inspector Dan Pardoe of Scotland Yard and Sergeant Salt, Pardoe's right-hand man, a twisted trail of deceit and secrets that eventually puts everyone at risk:
"'Part of my job, Miss Quentin, getting to know as fully as possible the people with whom we've got to deal. Looked at like that, nothing's irrelevant.' He lowered his voice. 'Don't, in the next day or two, confide too readily in anybody in the house. I don't want you to be alarmed, but it's just as well to feel that until your grandmother's murderer is discovered nobody-nobody is free from danger.'"
Dorothy Bowers was an Oxford graduate who wrote with a passion for word play and the full exploration of her characters. Her plots were intricate and enticing, and her mysteries were carefully worked out puzzles according to the etiquette of mystery writing. All clues are in plain sight, with the reader knowing as much as the detective before the case is solved. Still, her tales leave most readers baffled up until the very end, and therein lies the fun. It's a pity that Bowers didn't have a chance to produce a comprehensive body of work, because her talent is evident.
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