"Oh, I wish Ross was dead!" - Chapter 2
"I won't let Ross so much as cross the threshold. If he tries...There'll be murder done." - Chapter 3
"Mr. Ross, he'll go too far one of these days." - Chapter 4
"Shooting's too good for him--that's what I say!" - Chapter 5
Ross is just about to evict Lucy; has just tried to seduce Mavis, a distant cousin; has feuded with Rush, the concierge, accusing him of blackmail. (Rush is important in determining just who can have gotten in and out of this locked-building mystery.)
Chapter 1 gives a family history, which is important, but so complicated as to be incomprehensible; fortunately Wentworth gives us a table later on. Should you like a romance in your Golden Age mystery (as I do!) there's one on between Lee Stratton and Peter Renshaw (also distant cousins).
The mystery came out in 1939. World War I is important, but it's before World War II and no sign of it yet. The economy has begun to recover after the depression.
This is the first of the Chief Inspect Ernest Lamb mysteries; Frank Abbott is his public-school-educated assistant. Wentworth wrote three mysteries with Lamb as the main detective before he was absorbed into her most famous series, which has Miss Silver, former governess, as a professional detective. Two Miss Silver mysteries had appeared before this, but without Lamb or Abbott. I find the Miss Silver series pretty wonderful.
Lamb is much the same as he is in the Miss Silver stories, curmudgeonly, and a bit sexist: "Difficult to stop girls doing it nowadays, but if he found one of his [own daughters] with her mouth made up to look like an orange peel..." Dum, dum, de dum. Abbott is more modern, amenable to women in roles they didn't use to have and admires Miss Silver as a P.I. But Lamb isn't a fool in this or in other books; he recognizes Miss Silver gets results when they're paired together; and he finds the murderer in this one, mostly on his own. (Though with a little help.) Very entertaining.
And that romance? Well, if you've read any Patricia Wentworth, you'll know what happens.
All the non-Miss Silver mysteries were reissued be Dean Street Press a few years ago. And since Liz is hosting a Dean Street Press event at the moment...