I'd never come across G.M.Wilson, let alone her novel Nightmare Cottage, before I read an extremely positive review of the story on John Norris' splendid blog. John is an excellent judge - he introduced me to another long-neglected author, Claude Houghton, amongst others - and I determined to track down the novel. I've finally managed to find and read a copy, and it's my Forgotten Book for today.
John gives a fine account of the story, and I won't attempt to compete with it,.Rather, I'll start by reflecting on the fact that the book's lack of renown probably has a great deal to do with the fact that it was originally published in the UK, in 1963, by Robert Hale, a company closely associated with the public library market. There tends to be a stereotype that Hale books are inferior, but anyone who makes that assumption is likely to miss out on some very good books Pamela Barrington, to whom I was introduced by Kacper, via a comment on this blog, is among the Hale authors who wrote some very enjoyable work.
Gertrude Mary Wilson was, so I learn from Allen J. Hubin's brilliant and indispensable bibliography of the genre, born in 1899, and her career as a crime novelist began in the Fifties, continuing into the Seventies. Throughout she was published by Hale, and her regular detective was Inspector Lowick, who features here in tandem with Miss Purdy, an appealing amateur sleuth. John, incidentally, mentions in a comment on his blog post that he in turn was tipped off about Wilson by a review from the late and much missed Bill Deeck on the hugely informative Mystery*File blog.
I enjoyed the book, and found the story to be constructed with skill. That said, I wasn't quite as enthusiastic as John, and it's not entirely easy to explain why I wasn't as gripped as I should have been as the plot complications unfolded. I suppose that for me the mystery lacked the intensity that I like, and which I find very often, for instance, in the allegedly genteel and cosy world of Christie and Sayers. But then, they were two superstars, and G.M. Wilson was undoubtedly a capable story-teller who doesn't deserve to be forgotten. I'm glad that John, and Bill, highlighted her work. .