Friday’s Forgotten Books: The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley


Sir Eustace Pennefather, a notorious womanizer, receives a box of chocolates while staying at his London club. He disapproves such modern marketing techniques and is about to throw it away. But Graham Bendix, another club member whom he hardly knows, has lost a bet with his wife and needs one.

Bendix accepts the box, takes it home and gives it to his wife. Both try them together after lunch. His wife takes seven and he takes two. A few hours later Joan Bendix is dead, poisoned by nitrobenzene, while he is left seriously ill.

It becomes clear that the intended victim was Sir Eustace Pennefather rather than the innocent Joan Bendix, but Scotland Yard, unable to solve the case, takes an unusual approach. A group of six amateur sleuths, the Roger Sheringham’s Crime Circle, is call in. They have one week to come up with a solution individually and to present their case in six consecutive nights of the following week. Each solution is credible, but the problem is that each points to a different murderer and the reader is kept guessing up to the final pages.

This is a superb and very entertaining book, that hopefully will be available in Spanish soon. Absolutely delicious.

The Poisoned Chocolate Case (1929) remains, and deservedly, the Sheringham novel most fondly remembered by enthusiasts for Golden Age detective fiction.’ (Martin Edwards).

See some customer’s reviews at Amazon and Wikipedia for additional information.

Anthony Berkeley (1893 – 1971), a journalist as well as a novelist, was a founding member of the Detection Club and one of crime fiction’s greatest innovators. He was one of the first to predict the development of the ‘psychological’ crime novel and he sometimes wrote under the pseudonym of Francis Iles. He wrote twenty-four novels, ten of which feature his amateur detective, Roger Sheringham. (Taken from Fantastic fiction).

Anthony Berkeley

The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929)

Felony & Mayhem, 2010.

Number of pages: 224

ISBN: 978-1934609446

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12 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Books: The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley

  1. >Sounds very tasty! Are we allowed to guess at a solution? I guess that Bendix was the intended victim all along. 😉 (You don't need to allow this comment if it is against the rules!)

  2. >Ah! I guessed immediately that this one must be from around 1930. What a pity people don´t send poisoned chocolate any more; I enjoy poison plots much more than all the blunt instruments.

  3. >Maxine your guess is probably a good one but just take into account thatTPCC is based on a short story called 'The Avenging Chance' which stops short with the first 'solution' proposed in the book.Even if you guess it right you'll enjoy reading.

  4. >Like Patti, I read those Anthony Berkeley books long ago. Perhaps it's time to reread them. Long gone Pyramid Books published several of them in their GREEN DOOR series.

  5. >Berkeley is another I've read a bit of, but should obviously delve into.US publisher Pyramid was bought by Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, became Jove Books, was sold to the folks who'd bought Ace…and then I lost track…it gets very byznatine…

  6. >Any book with "chocolate" in the title is worth a look. Actually, I remember looking up "poisoned chocolates" for something a while back (research, honest!) and found several crime fiction books that dealt with poisoned chocolate in some fashion, but Berkeley's was the first.

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