The Fountain Plays by Dorothy Sayers, 1933
The magic trick:
Showing the reader every aspect of the mystery, yet still delivering a surprise ending
This thing plods along for a long time, consumed with talk about flowers and gardens and lots of exposition about the family and the house. Not great.
But if you stick around until the dead body finally turns up, you will get a pretty fun inverted mystery. We see who the murderer is. We know why the murderer murdered. And we see every detail of how the murderer skews the evidence.
Yet you will be surprised on the last page.
And that’s quite a trick on Sayers’s part.
It seemed to Mrs. Digby that there was a slightly strained atmosphere about dinner, though Betty, pretty as a picture and very much in love with Ronald Proudfoot, made a perfectly charming little hostess. The jarring note was sounded by Mr. Gooch. He ate too noisily, drank far too freely, got on Proudfoot’s nerves, and behaved to Mr. Spiller with a kind of veiled insolence which was embarrassing and disagreeable to listen to. She wondered again where he had come from, and why Mr. Spiller put up with him.
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