Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Black Dream

The Black Dream
Constance and Gwenyth Little
4/5 stars

Constance and Gwenyth Little were sisters who co-wrote mystery novels during the 1940s-50s.  Channeling the popular humor of the time, these books are screwball comedies with a fast pace, witty dialogue, and bizarre plots.  I've yet to read one that disappointed me, though some are, of course, better than others.

In the Black Dream (1952), Agatha keeps a boarding house of sorts and employees a cook, Em, that she despises.  A funky clause in Agatha's father's will keeps her from being able to fire Em.  Agatha has been under so much stress lately that she's been walking in her sleep; when she discovers Em's murdered body, she just knows that she killed Em while sleepwalking.  She hides the body, and then things get complicated.

With a full boarding house of characters it could be difficult to give them various personalities and quirks, but the Littles pull it off nicely.  The sub-plots running along side the major plot are funny and add to the general mayhem without detracting from the mystery.  There were enough twists in the plot to keep me guessing, even when I was certain I knew the answer.

While this isn't the best of the Little mysteries, it is a delightful novel and well worth a read.

Some of my favorites:

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