There is another world, but it is in this one.

Paul Eluard. Œuvres complètes, vol. 1, Gallimard, 1968.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sixty-four thousand seven hundred pounds: Curious Happenings to the Rooke Legatees by E. Phillips Oppenheim (1938)

"Before we deal in such home truths," Colin [Rooke] said, "I should like to ask one question. There's a slight protuberance on the right side of your hip?"

"A pertinent question," the murderer replied. "You shall see."

He thrust his hand into the hip pocket of his trousers and drew out a long black case. He opened it and held it out to Colin.

"There," he sail. "You shall see one of the sights of the world. Those are the diamonds of the Princess Dracopoli. For those diamonds they say some seven or eight murders have already been committed. I, Edgar Chilston, committed the latest one and I have the jewels."

"I have never seen anything like them in my life," Colin acknowledged in an almost awed undertone.

"That I can well understand," the other replied, as he restored them to their place. "If you were not already on the threshold of eternity, you would not have seen them now."

Curious Happenings to the Rooke Legatees
by E. Phillips Oppenheim (1937)

Oppenheim wrote over a hundred novels and many collections of stories. My personal favorites thus far have been his linked stories: adventures of a recurring set of characters as they solve small puzzles on the way to wrapping-up a bigger overall mystery.

Curious Happenings to the Rooke Legatees is no exception. It recounts the adventures of five broke and friendless people,  all unknown to each other, all named Rooke. They become recipients of legacies of recently murdered tycoon Desmonde Brooke. None of the recipients know him, but for each the windfall of £64700 is a godsend.

This being E. Phillips Oppenheim, the legatees are thrown into adventures on account of their windfalls. Some are lone yarns, others see the various Rookes team up. They solve the murder of their benefactor, various other mysterious crimes and near-crimes, and meet fascinating people.

The chapters are best read in sequence to appreciate the accumulation of clues and anecdotes.

Oppenheim gives the reader a first-row seat at the inter-war good life in London, Paris, and Monte Carlo. What could be better?

4 March 2018

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