Murder at Lilac Cottage

St. Swithin Press
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“One always embarks on a John Rhode book with a great sense of security. One knows that there will be a sound plot, well-knit process of reasoning, and a solidly satisfying solution with no loose ends or careless errors of fact.”—Dorothy Sayers on John Rhode

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   For three years the man had lived in the little Lilac cottage on the Squire’s estate, yet apparently no one in that peaceful village knew a thing about him. The only significant clue that Superintendent Hanslet and Jimmy Waghorn found was the five pound bank note that he received on the day he died.

   The minute they told Dr. Priestley about it he jumped to the bait and set forth on a trail that picked up such divergent clues as dope fiends, the dismantled engine of a motor mower, and the rear view of an odd man on a bicycle.

   When the village good-for-nothing was found dead on the estate, it seemed to complicate the affair even more. But for Dr. Priestley it actually simplified things. He brings the case to a smashing conclusion that will leave the reader gasping at the ingenuity of the murders and the unfailing astuteness of this famous criminologist.

“Convincingly worked out.”—The Saturday Review
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St. Swithin Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 1940
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Fiction / Crime
Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Cozy
Fiction / Mystery & Detective / General
Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Traditional British
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For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge—and the greatness that rose to meet it.

London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character, Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.

The Bloody Tower by John Rhode, also published as The Tower of Evil

“Any murder planned
my Mr. Rhode is bound to be ingenious.”—The Observer

The old man dragged his dilapidated chair
to the window. With difficulty, he slowly extended a gnarled, shaking hand and
pointed toward a distant, formless bulk outlined against the sunset. “The tower
still stands,” he said in a high-pitched, quivering voice, which seemed to
conceal a note of triumph.

Strange words from a man who has just been
told that his eldest son lies dead, killed by the inescapable explosion of his
own shotgun. To be sure, the body had been found near the tower, but what could
be the significance of this ungainly structure that the old man should mention
it so mysteriously? Could the key exist within the old letter bearing biblical
citations alongside a cipher of odd, hand-drawn shapes?

Subsequent developments draw Jimmy Waghorn
and Inspector Hanslet far from the actual crime scene in their search for the
murderer. When they finally bring their theory to that intrepid
scientist-detective, Dr. Priestley, he offers a strangely enigmatic suggestion
which throws new light on the case and sets them on the track of an amazing

“There are times when I think he is the
finest detective story writer of them all.”—The Manchester Evening Star

“He must hold the record for the invention
of ingenious ways of taking life.”—The Sunday

“It is the soundness of his method that
keeps him in the front rank of detective story artists.”—The London News

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