by Anthony Gilbert
If you’ve never heard of Anthony Gilbert, don’t feel bad; neither had I. Gilbert was just one of scores of writers contributing to the “golden age of detective fiction” a century ago. I am of course familiar with Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers and Mary Roberts Rinehart and a handful of other members of the murder-mystery movement, but like so many writers of that era, Anthony Gilbert has faded into obscurity.
The Tragedy at Freyne is typical of its genre. A celebrated artist apparently commits suicide at his secluded British estate, and there are murder suspects galore. If you read old mysteries, you can predict most of what follows.
Gilbert’s story does have someone filling the usual protagonist role, a la Poirot or Sherlock Holmes, but he’s not particularly memorable. Where Gilbert shines is in the portrayal of female characters — particularly women with dark secrets.
That shouldn’t be too surprising. “Anthony Gilbert” was, in fact, a pen name used by Lucy Beatrice Malleson, a prolific English writer responsible for more than 60 crime novels.
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