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Mystery Monday – Bones of Contention


Bones of Contention by Edward Candy


Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

The Director of London’s Museum of Pathological Conditions in Childhood, a Mr. Murivance, is dumb-founded by the unexpected arrival of a female skeleton in a steamer trunk. A few days later, he is found dead, apparently of natural causes but the exact cause of death cannot be solidly determined.

Some days after that one of his colleagues, Miles Latimer, is shoved through a rickety balustrade. He wakes up to find himself trapped in a private nursing home run by his would-be murderer. The attempted killer is keeping him doped up to stave off his remembering what really happened.

This inverted mystery could be counted as either an academic mystery or a mystery involving doctors and nurses. Adding suspense are the trusty standbys of “doctor gone off the rails” and “kept prisoner in a hospital” not to mention both “old-school deference to authority” and “experienced nurse smells something fishy.” Not to mention, “concerned friends and allies” and “loyal fiancée.”

I highly recommend this one. Like Edmund Crispin but not as silly, more like a lighter Michael Innes, if that can be imagined. This 1954 novel is like early P.D. James, given the medical settings too. I didn’t get some of the differences in medical customs, such as why surgeons are “Mr.,” not “Dr.” But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the highly literate and witty prose.

Edward Candy is the pseudonym of Barbara Alison Neville (1925-1993). She was born in London and educated in Hampstead and University College, and later earned a medical degree. She practiced medicine and had a family of five children while writing about a dozen books, three of which are medical mysteries, this one, Which Doctor and Words for Murder, Perhaps.










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