Echo of Drums (Louis Beauregard Pendleton, 1938)

So Pendleton really, really hates black people. I suppose I could do a more traditional synopsis: a family of planters in Georgia go through degradation in the post-war period, but it all comes back to Pendleton really, really, really hating black people. Also, blood libel. He quite freely mixes antisemitism and racism. Anyone who isn’t blond haired and blue eyed is evil, essentially.

Inscriptions: on the flyleaf: “To the Bradleys with sincere thanks for giving me insights into the width and breadth of the marriage license as set forth by an ill-informed negro lady. Sincerely, Alva Balden (or Baldin, perhaps), Xmas 1939”

The Wall (Mary Roberts Rinehart, 1938)

Juliette turns up at Sunset House, the summer residence of Marcia Lloyd, to demand $100,000 from her ex-husband, Marcia’s brother Arthur, but while the Lloyds may still have some of the trapping of wealth, they don’t have $100,000 and couldn’t raise it if they sold everything they owned. It works out, though, when Juliette is found bludgeoned to death in the woods. Then her maid’s body is caught off-shore by a fisherman. Then the local doctor is shot through the heart. The D.A. is up for re-election and is gunning for a conviction, first trying to pin it on Arthur, then on Fred Martin, a golf instructor who it turns out was also once married to Juliette. The sheriff, Russell Shand, is less hasty and doesn’t like all the “odds and ends” that so simple a solution leaves. Juliette, for all her faults, was a fearless woman and she was afraid when she came to Rock Island. Why?

No inscriptions.

The Case of the Substitute Face (Erle Stanely Gardner, 1938)

Aboard a ship from Honolulu to San Fransisco, a man is seen thrown overboard in an apparent murder. His wife is suspected of the crime. Perry Mason defends her, and in doing so, gets to the bottom of what happened that night, which the wife says began with the puzzling disappearance of her daughter’s photo.

Quite easy, overall. The motivation doesn’t become clear until later, but I had the “murder” itself figured out within the first ten chapters. In fact, I had a strong suspicion that Carl Moar and Roger Cartman were one and the same even before Moar’s staged death was committed, and once you realize that Moar wasn’t dead but in hiding, then the theft of the picture becomes obvious.

Inscription: “Given to the U-7 grade room NOV. 27 1956 By Linwood Gilbert”, in pencil on the inside front cover. “Grade room” is in cursive, the rest is in print.