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The Wrong Letter
by Walter S. Masterman

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The Wrong Letter by Walter S. Masterman

The crime: The Home Secretary Sir James Watson was found shot in the head inside his study which was locked from the inside. There was no apparent way in or out for the murderer to have been able to get into the room to commit the crime, nor a way to escape unnoticed. Further, the housekeeper Mrs. Simmons did not hear any shot which she certainly would have. What is going on here? How was the crime committed and by who?

It will be the task of Superintendent Sinclair from Scotland Yard and his amateur sleuth friend Sylvester Collins, a barrister, to unravel the mystery.

The inside cover of the novel reads:

Mr. G. K. Chesterton writes in his preface:

"I can say with all sincerity, nay with all solemn responsibility, that this detective mystery deceived me."

Mr. Masterman has skillfully avoided the conventional situations usually found in detective stories. Sir James Watson, the Home Secretary, is murdered in his own house, and the event is reported to Scotland Yard on the telephone by the murderer. The House Secretary at the time of the crime is alone in his room with the door locked, and no means of exit. The detectives who attempt to solve the tangle are led into a strange net of love and mystery.

A clever baffling tale.

This is a solid locked room mystery. However, the basic resolution of the locked room aspect is not novel. I don't want to spoil the story but those who have read the locked room mysteries published prior to this one will find a familiar idea. The details are different, but the essential aspect, how to get around the locked room situation, is not new.

  • Preface
  • Chapter I. The Crime
  • Chapter II. Speculations
  • Chapter III. At the Vale
  • Chapter IV. The Missing Letter
  • Chapter V. A Mysterious Visit
  • Chapter VI. At Leveson Square
  • Chapter VII. Valuable Information
  • Chapter VIII. Enter Mr. Allery
  • Chapter IX. A Confession
  • Chapter X. The Portrait
  • Chapter XI. An Apparition
  • Chapter XII. What Happened in the Night
  • Chapter XIII. The Car in the Dark
  • Chapter XIV. Back in London
  • Chapter XV. The Crisis
  • Chapter XVI. The Criminal Found
  • Chapter XVII. The Wrong Letter

1st edition 1926, PDF 133 pages.
word count: 42013 which is equivalent to 168 standard pages of text

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