A MAN LAY DEAD
The murder of an apparent monk? A stolen chalice? Sounds altogether Gothic, and not the kind of case we'd expect Inspector Alleyn to be involved in. Yet the sleuth has no way of getting out of the situation, despite being keen to take some well-deserved time off so he can romance his beloved Agatha Troy. Speaking of which, the delightful Ms Troy is spending time at her uncle's splendid country home, along with a group of posh types who make a picture-perfect array of suspects.
Suspects in what? Why, a murder of course. Not the monk's, but another murder - this one taking place at Troy's uncle's manor. Rather juicily, the killing happens during an innocent game of "Murder", where one member of the group is secretly designated as the killer. During this game, someone really does turn up dead, and Alleyn is soon put on the case. But is this skulduggery linked to the monk and the chalice?
THE FINAL CURTAIN
How about another array of posh, potential villains? This time, we're delving into the very dodgy world of the Ancred dynasty. The patriarch of the clan is Sir Henry, a "legendary" thespian. Or ham actor, if you want to be unkind. A big, blustering fellow with a taste for velvet smoking jackets and an eye for the ladies (preferably ladies much younger and blonder than himself), Sir Henry is surrounded by family members who are generally rather creepy and peculiar. And seemingly concealing hidden agendas.
A strange set-up indeed, but one which Agatha Troy has to engage with when she's commissioned to paint Sir Henry's portrait. She soon realises that the various Ancreds members are competing for the family fortune, and some very sinister things are afoot. Before long, something very bad happens - and we're not just talking about the whoopee cushion at the dinner table...
DEATH AT THE BAR
What kind of bar? The kind you drink at, or the ones barristers are called to? Well, both, as it happens. Our victim in this case is a brilliant, flamboyant and altogether cocky lawyer named Luke Watchman, who is known for his flashing intelligence and special way of utterly dismantling the lies of criminals in court. In other words, there are many people with very good reasons to seek revenge on Watchman. And yet, this London barrister is far from home when the end does come.
He is, in fact, in Cornwall. On what's supposed to be a pleasant, relaxing holiday by the sea. The only thing is, strange looks are exchanged behind his back when he arrives, and there's air of foreboding about things. Then, one night in the pub, a local fellow starts to show off his aim with a set of darts, and what's supposed to be an entertaining stunt takes a very deadly turn. Time to send for Inspector Roderick Alleyn...
Celtic rituals, miraculous waters, and sudden death threats? It's yet another bizarre case for Roderick Alleyn to unravel. This one concerns an old teacher of his named Miss Emily Pride. Her name is appropriate, because she is a truly imperious older lady who is absolutely sure of her own opinions and judgments. Indeed, this is why she's in trouble. Having inherited some land in Scotland, she has become the owner of a local spring which the locals believe can cure medical ailments, and want to turn into a mystical commercial attraction.
Miss Pride is dead set against it - she has no time for some vulgar poppycock. As a result, she's been getting death threats. Or, as she puts it, "someone in this idyllic backwater intends to do me harm". Not that this will make her change her mind. As Alleyn says, when it comes to sticking her neck out, Miss Pride could teach giraffes a thing or two. But will her stubbornness get her killed?
SCALES OF JUSTICE
What do you do when a dying friend entrusts you with his memoirs and implores you to publish them after he's shuffled off this mortal coil? Why, you do it of course - even if members of the man's family are vehemently against it. That's the situation Colonel Cartarette is placed in when his old friend Sir Henry Lacklander hands him the manuscript while on his deathbed.
The thing is, Sir Henry's writings contain a reference to the suicide of a fellow aristocrat who had been accused of being a Nazi sympathizer. Could this be the reason behind the brutal murder which follows? Perhaps. Or perhaps it's got something to do with the landing of a prize trout on Lacklander's property. Sounds all very unusual. But then, Inspector Alleyn specializes in the unusual.