The Roll-Top Desk Mystery (Carolyn Wells, 1932)

Detective Fleming Stone is on vacation with retired detective Mayo Farnum at Oleander Park on the North Shore — a popular place for summer houses among the moneyed set. But, of course, no detective is actually happy unless he’s on a case, and Rocky Reef house provides.

Lowell Berkeley has fallen head over heals for Rosalie. His father, Louis, is prouder of the family heritage than anything and this woman is virtually anonymous. But Louis would never make Lowell unhappy and has consented to the marriage. Just then, Rosalie is murdered by having her head smashed by a roll-top desk. Farnum — an old friend of the Berkeleys — is called and Stone tags along. It isn’t more than two weeks later that Mimi, Rosalie’s friend, begins to fill the void in Lowell’s heart. She, too, is crushed to death.

I don’t really need to say that it was Louis as there really isn’t any part where that’s not obvious. He explains himself in the end, though. Rosalie, he discovered, was one-eighth black and she had to die to save Lowell from that. Mimi was a prostitute and it’s implied that she had some disease. So, it’s head crushing for her, too.

Inscriptions: stamped “Friends of the Belleflower Library” on the inside front cover.


The Ebony Bed Murder (Rufus Gillmore, 1932)

An internationally renowned beauty just divorced from her fifth husband is found shot to death in her Fifth Avenue apartment. The police and DA are sure it’s suicide, but amateur detective Griffith Scott thinks otherwise. A ridiculous story that ends with the most impossible reveal imaginable. If the murderer had 10,000 tries, they’d still never successfully pull off the crime as Scott describes it.

Inscriptions: Stamped on the first and last page “Mrs. J.E. Connell”.

Murder at the Hunting Club (Mary Plum, 1932)

At a secluded lakeside cabin, Virginia Day is found stabbed through the heart, scarcely a year since her father so unexpectedly drowned. Several other people are there, including her fiancĂ© Charles Hilton, her second cousin and presumed heir Sue Barrett, her late father’s business partner Mike MacDonald, and a celebrated detective with the most unassuming name: John Smith.

It’s quite near the end before we start getting any real clues to winnow down the suspects, but when they do come, each clue follows quick on the heels of the last and they all point in one direction. By the big reveal in last chapter, I can’t imagine anyone won’t have already guessed the culprit and have at least a very good idea what the motive was.

Inscription: On the front end paper is written “Vickie R. Whitcomb, Newburgh, Me.” Stamped on the back flyleaf, “Danforth Lending Library at 15 Central Street, Bangor, Maine.”