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The Arncliffe Puzzle: 07/03/14
One of my reading goals that I've had for the last decade is to read through the majority of my old books. Old books are remarkably easy to come by. There are the weeded library books, the used book store finds that sit on the top shelf because they haven't been popular fiction for as long as the book store has been open, and finally there are lists like Craigslist and Freecycle.
Before going to library school, I had romantic notions about old books. I would buy them or collect them if they were listed as free to a good home, with the idea of reading them and then finding them new readers. Now, though, I've wised up some and my home book shelves have to accommodate not only my books, but my husband's, and our children's. The only sensible thing to do is to weed my haphazardly built collection. While I am mostly weeding without reading, there are few that still catch my eye.
The Arncliffe Puzzle by Gordon Holmes is one of those books I got because of the cover. On the cloth cover it has this huge orange question mark, sort of like what you'd see The Riddler Use (although he prefers green to orange). It was obviously the big name mystery release of its day as the cover sports a huge "by the author of" note where the author's name should go. So Gordon Holmes once upon a time must have been a Dan Brown or a James Patterson. But he hasn't had the staying power of Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle.
The setting is one of those typical English manor (where all the locked room mysteries seem to take place). A stranger arrives just as Lord Arncliffe is discovered in his office. There is, of course, a long lost relative (when none had been previously known).
The Arncliffe Puzzle thematically is there with the Sherlock Holmes short stories (though less deftly done), Hercule Poirot, and Laurie R. King's Touchstone (Harris Stuyvesant).