My Book Notes: Mystery at Lynden Sands, 1928 (Sir Clinton Driffield # 4) by J. J. Connington

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The Orion Publishing Group Ltd., 2013. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 802 KB. Print Length: 294 pages. ASIN: B00AES050S. ISBN: 978-1-4719-0598-8. With an introduction by Curtis Evans. Mystery at Lynden Sands was first published by V. G. Gollancz in the UK in 1928, and by Little, Brown and Company in the US the same year.

hbg-title-9781471905988-2Book Description: In the fourth Sir Clinton Driffield mystery, the detective finds himself up against a missing heir, an accidental bigamist, a series of secret marriages and impersonations and an ingenious scientific murder. Aided by his wit and powers of reasoning, as well as Wendover, his very own Watson, Sir Clinton once again succeeds in piecing together a solution as the novel reaches its thrilling climax.

From the Introduction by Curtis Evans: In 1928 there appeared two additional Sir Clinton Driffield novels Mystery at Lynden Sands and The Case with Nine Solutions. Once again there was great praise for the latest Connigntons. H. C. Harwood, the critic who had so much admired Murder In The Maze, opined of Mystery at Lyden Sands that it ‘may just fail of being the detective story of the century’ . . .  In both of these Connington novels, Steward moved away from his customary country-house milieu, setting Lyden Sands at a fashionable beach resort and Nine Solutions at a scientific research institute.

My Take: I would like to start with a warning, as Martin Edwards has done in his review. Certainly, the first chapter makes every attempt to offer the reader an excuse to give up reading this book. But the reader will do well not to abandon it, since it turns out being a highly satisfying read. As Martin Edwards remarks, it could have been easily replaced by a background note or merely by a family tree.

The story itself begins when Sir Clinton Driffield holidays are disrupted when Inspector Armadale asks for him at the hotel where he and his friend ‘Squire’ Wendover are staying. The matter that worries Armadale is that Peter Hay, the caretaker at Foxhills, a manor house in the neighbourhood, has been found dead close to his cottage. The doctor first thought he died of natural causes, but when he saw some marks in the body, he became suspicious and now he refuses to sign the death certificate. Sir Clinton doesn’t want to interfere with the local police and tries by all means not to get involved in the case, but finally he consents to assist Inspector Armadale as an observer.

Nobody understands who could have wanted to kill Peter Hay, a loved and well-known man by everyone locally, with the reputation of being a man of integrity. And, thus, it seems rather strange  to find some low-value silver items in his possession, coming from Foxhills. Foxhills belongs to the Fordingbridge family, and two of his members, Paul and his sister Jay, are staying at the same hotel than Sir Clinton. The fact is that the actual owner of Foxhill, Derek Fordingbridge, Paul and Jay’s nephew, remains in unknown whereabouts. During the war, he first was declared dead, next it was believed he was taken prisoner and finally it was heard he had managed to escape. However, it is unclear whether he is still alive and may have lost his memory, or died while trying to flee. Anyway the reader is well aware that Paul Fordingbridge doesn’t believe his nephew is still alive while his sister Jay is sure he’s alive and claims she has seen him during a séance, even though he has a disfigured face and has lost two fingers from his right hand.

The story becomes more complex when another body is found possibly related with a blackmail case, intertwined with one or two cases of bigamy and plenty of suspects. Finally Sir Clinton will unravel the mysteries hidden in this case using only sound logic and the clues provided with fairness during the course of the telling. 

There are many good things to enjoy in this book. The relationship between Sir Clinton, Wendover and Inspector Armadale is one of them. And Sir Clinton is quite an interesting character despite the rudeness and tactlessness with which he treats those around him. The ending might be a bit disappointing, or at least not as good as I was expecting, but everything falls nicely into place. Maybe it also has some passages a bit repetitive. But in any case it is well worth reading it.

My Rating: A (I loved it)

Mystery at Lynden Sands has been reviewed, among others, at Golden Age of Detection Wiki, The Grandest Game in the World, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’ and Vintage Pop Fictions.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. V. G. Gollancz (UK), 1928)

About the Author: Alfred Walter Stewart (1880 – 1947), who wrote under the pen name J. J. Connington, was born in Glasgow, the youngest of three sons of Reverend Dr Stewart. He graduated from Glasgow University and pursued an academic career as a chemistry professor, working for the Admiralty during the First World War. Known for his ingenious and carefully worked-out puzzles and in-depth character development, he was admired by a host of his better-known contemporaries, including Dorothy L. Sayers and John Dickson Carr, who both paid tribute to his influence on their work. He married Jessie Lily Courts in 1916 and they had one daughter. (Source: The Orion Publishing Group) J.J. Connington is one of three writers explored in depth in Curtis Evans’ Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery (2012).

Sir Clinton Driffield Mysteries: Murder In The Maze (1927); Tragedy At Ravensthorpe (1927); The Case with Nine Solutions (1928); Mystery at Lynden Sands (1928); Nemesis at Raynham Parva apa Grim Vengeance (1929); The Boathouse Riddle (1931); The Sweepstake Murders (1931); The Castleford Conundrum (1932); The Ha-Ha Case apa The Brandon Case (1934); In Whose Dim Shadow (1935); A Minor Operation (1937); Murder Will Speak (1938); Truth Comes Limping (1938); The Twenty-One Clues (1941); No Past Is Dead (1942); Jack-in-the-box (1944); and Common Sense is All You Need (1947)

Alfred Walter Stewart, alias J. J. Connington at The Passing Tramp.

The Orion Group publicity page

J. J. Connington page at Golden Age of Detecttion Wiki

Mike Grost on J. J. Connington

Nick Fuller’s survey article with many links to his reviews is at The Grandest Game in the World.

Misterio en Lynden Sands, de J. J. Connington

Descripción del libro: En el cuarto misterio de Sir Clinton Driffield, nuestro detective se enfrenta a un heredero desaparecido, un caso de bígamia accidental, una serie de matrimonios secretos y suplantaciones y un ingenioso asesinato científico. Ayudado por su ingenio y capacidad de razonamiento, así como por Wendover, su propio Watson, Sir Clinton una vez más logra reconstruir todas las piezas de la solución conforme la novela alcanza su emocionante climax.

De la introducción de Curtis Evans: En 1928 aparecieron otras dos novelas mas de Sir Clinton Driffield Mystery at Lynden Sands y The Case with Nine Solutions. Una vez más, recibió grandes elogios por los  últimos Conningtons. H. C. Harwood, el crítico que tanto había admirado Murder In The Maze, opinó de Mystery at Lyden Sands que “puede que solo se quede un poco corta de no ser la historia de detectives del siglo”. . . En estas dos novelas de Connington, Steward se alejó de su ambiente habitual en una casa de campo, enmarcando a Lyden Sands en un moderno hotel de playa y a Nine Solutions en un instituto de investigación científica.

Mi opinión: Me gustaría comenzar con una advertencia, como hace Martin Edwards en su reseña. Ciertamente, el primer capítulo hace todo lo posible por ofrecer al lector una excusa para dejar de leer este libro. Pero el lector hará bien en no abandonarlo, ya que resulta ser una lectura muy satisfactoria. Como comenta Martin Edwards, podría haber sido reemplazado fácilmente por una nota con los antecedentes o simplemente por un árbol genealógico.

La historia en sí comienza cuando las vacaciones de Sir Clinton Driffield se ven interrumpidas cuando el inspector Armadale pregunta por él en el hotel donde él y su amigo “Squire” Wendover se hospedan. Lo que preocupa a Armadale es que Peter Hay, el guardían de Foxhills, una casa solariega en el vecindario, fue encontrado muerto cerca de su casa rural. El médico primero pensó que había muerto por causas naturales, pero al ver algunas marcas en el cuerpo, comenzó a sospechar y ahora se niega a firmar el certificado de defunción. Sir Clinton no quiere inmiscuirse con la policía local e intenta por todos los medios no involucrarse en el caso, pero finalmente consiente en ayudar al inspector Armadale como observador.

Nadie entiende quién podría haber querido matar a Peter Hay, un hombre querido y conocido por todos en la zona, con reputación de ser un hombre íntegro. Y, por lo tanto, parece bastante extraño encontrar algunos artículos de plata de bajo valor en su poder, provenientes de Foxhills. Foxhills pertenece a la familia Fordingbridge y dos de sus miembros, Paul y su hermana Jay, se alojan en el mismo hotel que Sir Clinton. El hecho es que el propietario real de Foxhill, Derek Fordingbridge, sobrino de Paul y Jay, permanece en paradero desconocido. Durante la guerra, primero fue declarado muerto, luego se creyó que fue hecho prisionero y finalmente se supo que había logrado escapar. Sin embargo, no está claro si todavía está vivo y puede haber perdido la memoria o si murió mientras intentaba huir. De todos modos, el lector es muy consciente de que Paul Fordingbridge no cree que su sobrino siga vivo, mientras que su hermana Jay está segura de que está vivo y afirma que lo ha visto durante una sesión de espiritismo, a pesar de que tiene la cara desfigurada y ha perdido dos dedos de su mano derecha.

La historia se vuelve más compleja cuando se encuentra otro cuerpo posiblemente relacionado con un caso de chantaje, entrelazado con uno o dos casos de bigamia y muchos sospechosos. Finalmente, Sir Clinton desentrañará los misterios ocultos en este caso utilizando solo la lógica y las pistas proporcionadas con imparcialidad durante el transcurso de la narración.

Este libro tiene muchas cosas buenas con las que poder disfrutar.  La relación entre Sir Clinton, Wendover y el inspector Armadale es una de ellas. Y Sir Clinton es un personaje bastante interesante a pesar de la rudeza y falta de tacto con que trata a quienes lo rodean. El final puede ser un poco decepcionante, o al menos no tan bueno como esperaba, pero todo encaja perfectamente. Quizás también tenga algunos pasajes un poco repetitivos. Pero en cualquier caso merece la pena leerlo.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Acerca del autor: Alfred Walter Stewart (1880 – 1947), quien escribió bajo el seudónimo J. J. Connington, nació en Glasgow, era el menor de los tres hijos del reverendo Dr. Stewart. Se graduó en la Universidad de Glasgow y continuó la carrera académica como profesor de química, trabajando para el Almirantazgo durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Conocido por sus ingeniosos y cuidadosamente elaborados acertijos y un profundo desarrollo de sus personajes, fue admirado por una gran cantidad de sus contemporáneos más conocidos, incluidos Dorothy L. Sayers y John Dickson Carr, quienes rindieron homenaje a su influencia en su trabajo. Se casó con Jessie Lily Courts en 1916 y tuvieron una hija. (Fuente: The Orion Publishing Group) J.J. Connington es uno de los tres escritores explorados en profundidad en Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery (2012) de Curtis Evans.

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