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Mystery Monday – Murder by Matchlight

Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


Readers that like novels set in wartime London – Like Ministry of Fear (Greene) or The Untouchable (Banville) will like Murder by Matchlight, a 1944 mystery by now neglected E.C.R. Lorac (the pen-name of Edith Caroline Rivett). The danger of air raids is described:

He was soon driving westwards along the empty darkness of Marylebone Road – a darkness slashed by the incredible brightness of the traffic lights shining out at the road junctions ahead. Belfort Grove had the same quality as every other London street during the blackout: it seemed completely blank and dead, as though it were impossible that cheerful normal human beings could live and move behind the dead facade of blackened houses.

But that’s not all. When one character complains why go after the killer of a lazy thug who needed killin’ given that civilization is endangered by the war, series hero CID Inspector Robert MacDonald mildly observes that if private justice through murder prevails, it’d really be a nazified world then.

The climax also involves an incendiary bomb crash through the roof of a rooming house of the vic and the colorful characters who lived there with him. The characters are fun if thin, the plot strong, the solution surprising, the writing top-notch, as the quote above shows. I recommend this without reservation.  Dover Publications reprinted it in the 1980s so it pops up at PBS every now and then. Sadly, though Lorac was a prolific author, her mysteries are hard to come by.





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One Response to “Mystery Monday – Murder by Matchlight”

  1. Priscilla C. (MSCOZY) says:

    Hello! Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your reviews especially of the older writers. Keep up the great work. I look forward to reading more of your reviews in the future! Thank you!

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