Raspberry Jam and The Curved Blades.September 12, 2007
So, I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’ve been on a Carolyn Wells kick lately. Having run out of Patty books for the moment, I’ve been reading a few of her mystery novels, like Raspberry Jam and The Curved Blades.
Raspberry Jam is about a wealthy New York couple, the Emburys. Eunice Embury, nee Ames, has been friends with three young men since they were all children. She married one of them, Sanford Embury; the other two, Mason Elliott and Alvord Hendricks, are good friends of the Emburys. Both of them happen also to be in love with Eunice.
Eunice is very happy in her marriage, except that Sanford, who is very generous in all other ways, refuses to give her an allowance. He gives her anything she asks for, and allows her to have accounts at every store in town, but he won’t give her a few dollars a month to buy magazines and pay for cab rides and stuff. And really, Eunice is right; it’s completely unreasonable. But other than that, Sanford is pretty cool, so I was upset when he was found dead.
The best thing about this book is the reason for the title: after Sanford’s death is discovered, Eunice’s Aunt Abby claims to have been visited by Sanford’s ghost as she died. She’s a spiritualist, and feels that the apparition is a big deal because she percieved it with all five senses: she saw it, heard it, smelled it, felt it when she grabbed its arm, and — get this — tasted it when she bit its sleeve. And it tasted like raspberry jam, which is the clue that leads Wells’ detective, Fleming Stone, to the murderer.
The worst thing about the book is that the two characters I liked both ended up dead.
The Curved Blades is kind of crazy, less because of the peculiar mystery than because Fleming Stone falls in love with one of the suspects and spends the rest of the book acting like a sap.
Not that the peculiar mystery isn’t sort of entertaining, too. Lucy Carrington, a rich, bitchy old maid, is found dead sitting in front of her mirror wearing obscene amounts of jewelry and smiling. It’s actually pretty creepy. It’s a fun book, but I may have enjoyed the ads at the end of the book more.
Also, I realized, like, two minutes ago what the title referred to, and — well, Carolyn Wells was smart.
Frontispiece from The Curved Blades:
From left to right: Pauline Stuart, Fleming Stone, Detective Hardy, Gray Haviland, and Anita Frayne.