The Hobgoblin Murder (Kay Cleaver Strahan, 1934)

Almost fifty years ago, a young woman eloped with a man that her father considered to be far below her station. He disowned her, and suspicious of his other daughters’ complicity, put his vast fortune in trust. Not a penny was to be turned over until after the death of his eldest daughter, Prudence — a woman as hardhearted and tyrannical as himself. His three remaining children, now elderly, lead an isolated, joyless life filled with fear and anger.

One night, the granddaughter of the estranged eloper appears at the door seeking shelter.  It comes to be known that she is ill and in danger of losing her sight if she does not get an operation, and has come in search of funding. She brings with her a four-year-old child, whose presence is probably the only reason she was not turned away at once. All the same, it is obvious that she will get no money until after Prudence dies.

Prudence is found dead six weeks later, stabbed in the neck with knitting shears. The house was locked tight. Everyone inside had a motive, but also an alibi. Lynn MacDonald, a Sherlock Holmes-like detective, is called to unravel the mystery.

The twist is something that has to be seen to be believed. Stop reading now if you have any intention of picking up this book.

Fair warning, I’m going to spoil the end…

The four-year-old is actually a fully grown circus midget.

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