Book Review: Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon

Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon
My rating: 3 stars 🌟🌟🌟
Publisher: British Library Crime Classics

The story of how seven dead people come to be in a locked room of a manor house was what hooked me into reading this and I loved the way it began with a burglar being the one to happen upon them while trying to rob the house. Sadly, what followed was mostly disappointing to this reader. I loved Mystery in White by Farjeon so my disappointment was probably felt more.

The investigation took two paths with Inspector Kendall (whom I very much enjoyed) and reporter Thomas Hazeldean (whom I didn't enjoy at all). Hazeldean pretty much falls in love with a portrait of a preteen girl and takes off to find the woman she's become and yes, that pretty much put me off of him. There's quite a lot of the story where he's the lead tracking down the girl and the clues in Boulogne and I just didn't have the ability to buy into the relationship the author was trying to sell. I didn't want it at all and it overshadowed other elements of the main mystery. It didn't help that Dora Fenner was in damsel mode the entire time. I allow for these stories being of their time but this just grated on me. Maybe I'm cranky this year and suffering from low tolerance due to life during pandemic. YMMV.

Kendall finally reappears around Chapter 16 and the story picked up a bit, which I enjoyed. In the end, the explanation and what the disparate clues hinged on was a bit too far fetched for me but I can't say it was terrible. I would read another book with Kendall as the lead and I think he's a great character and I enjoyed his portion of the story. Hazeldean I will avoid at all costs. A note here that you'll likely have to break out your highschool French or use your translate app because there's plenty of French & Franglish in this book.

Neutral on recommend. I will, of course, continue reading the British Crime Library Classics as I've enjoyed them a lot.

Summary: Ted Lyte, amateur thief, has chosen an isolated house by the coast for his first robbery. But Haven House is no ordinary country home. While hunting for silverware to steal, Ted stumbles upon a locked room containing seven dead bodies. Detective Inspector Kendall takes on the case with the help of passing yachtsman Thomas Hazeldean. The search for the house's absent owners brings Hazeldean across the Channel to Boulogne, where he finds more than one motive to stay and investigate.

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