J. J. Connington was a leading light of British Golden Age detective fiction, although in the post-war era, his reputation declined and until recently, most of his books were hard to find.. He was an interesting writer, and although some aspects of his work are very dated, he wrote a number of unusual novels with ingenious plots, and was a strong believer in 'playing fair' with his readers. He is the author of today's Forgotten Book, For Murder Will Speak, which was originally published in 1938.
This was the novel he wrote immediately after the very disappointing Truth Comes Limping, and my expectations were none too high. There's a widespread view that his best work was done earlier in his career,before ill-health began to dog him. But as with The Four Defences, I felt that this book had much to commend it. And it features poison pen letters, a subject dealt with very enjoyably in recent posts on the admirable Clothes in Books blog.
The viewpoint to begin with is that of a businessman called Hyson, a nasty piece of work who messes about with female subordinates as well as with the firm's finances. It soon becomes clear that he is one of those Golden Age characters who is destined for an unpleasant end, but the structure of the book is unusual, and although a couple of deaths occur, it's not clear whether either or both of them are murders. Connington's usual detective, Sir Clinton Driffield, eventually comes into the story and sets about untangling a complicated web.
As so often with Connington, the technical complications and focus on fair play mean that it's not terribly difficult to figure out who is sending the poisoned pen letters, or who is responsible (directly or indirectly) for Hyson's death. But I found the story engaging and readable, even though I was rather taken aback by one of the plot strands (which to quote a review on the GAdetection site involves "a woman whose nymphomania has been corrected through a glandular adjustment".). All a bit odd, and reflecting Connington's attitudes, which were not exactly modern or progressive. As a result, the book ranks as something of a curiosity - but to my mind, an under-rated one.