My Book Notes: The Case With Nine Solutions, 1928 (Sir Clinton Driffield #3) by J. J. Connington

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The Murder Room, 2012. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 799 KB. Print Length: 310 pages. ASIN: B00AES04WW. eISBN: 978-1-4719-0596-4. With an introduction by Curtis Evans. It was first published by V. G. Gollancz in the UK in 1928, and by Little, Brown and Company in 1929.

hbg-title-9781471905964-2Book Description: When a locum doctor is called out one foggy night to a case of scarlet fever, he mistakes one house for another and discovers a young man lying in a pool of blood, who manages to choke out a dying message. This intriguing clue-laden third case for Sir Clinton Driffield has its origin in a dark scheme that reveals as much about the means for murder as its motivation.

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. … in the United States author and book reviewer Frederic F. Van de Water expressed nearly as high an opinion of The Case with Nine Solutions. ‘This book is a thoroughbred of a distinguished lineage that runs back to “The Golden Bug” of [Edgar Allan] Poe,’ he avowed. ‘It represents the highest type of detective fiction.’ 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: Dr Ringwood, who is doing locum for old Carew, receives the visit of Dr Markfield, after a hard day’s work. The visit is interrupted by a phone call. One of the maids at the Silverdale household is concerned about the other maid who appears to be seriously ill. The whole family is away and she doesn’t know what to do. Since Dr Ringwood is unfamiliar with the town and there is a dense fog, he fears he won’t find his way and will get lost. But Dr Markfield offers to guide him up there, driving ahead of him. Once on the street of his destination, Dr Ringwood gets confused on account of the fog and enters the house next door where it seems that there is no one. However he soon finds a young man dying of gunshot wounds who barely manages to stammer a cryptic message and dies. There seems to be no phone in the house and Ringwood heads towards the Silverdale house, the correct  house, to call the police. After diagnosing the maid with scarlet fever, he contacts Sir Clinton Driffield himself to inform him of his find. With nothing else to be done for the young maid, Ringwood decides to wait for the police at the house next door. On arrival, Sir Clinton makes use of his excellent deduction skills to prove that the young man was murdered elsewhere. Then they head to the Silverdale house where no one answers their call. When they finally manage to enter they discover that the maid has been strangled, while the sick servant has managed to escape alive thanks to her condition.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading The Case With Nine Solutions. The story is highly interesting and is fairly clued. The plot is nicely constructed and the characters are very well defined and turn out to be attractive. Besides, I find Dr Steward writing style to be direct, clear and straightforward, what I really like it. Just to underline a small defect perhaps, the identity of the culprit becomes pretty evident at a given point, in my view. However, this has not distracted me at all. Besides one need to take into account that the number of characters is not too large. In any case, to tell you the truth, I was not able to form an idea of the motivation that was hidden behind the crimes. It is worth mentioning that in this instalment, Inspector Flamborough plays the role of Watson to Sir Clinton in stead of Wendover, and, as anticipated before by some other reviewer, perhaps a more appropriate title might have been A Case with Nine Possibilities. Overall, an excellent example a classic detective story, from a writer that deserves himself a much wider audience.

My Rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

The Case With Nine Solutions has been reviewed, among others, at The Grandest Game in the World, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Beneath the Stains of Time, Golden Age of Detection Wiki, At the Crime Scene, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Classic Mysteries, Vintage Pop Fictions, and Noah’s Archives.


(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).

In Particular, I look forward to reading next The Sweepstake Murders, The Ha-Ha Case, In Whose Dim Shadow, and Jack-in-the-Box.

The Orion Publishing Group publicity page

Coachwhip Publications publicity page

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

Mike Grost on J. J. Connington

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

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

Nueve soluciones para un problema de J. J. Connington

30278744769Descripción del libro: Cuando un médico suplente es llamado para atender un caso de escarlatina una noche de niebla, confunde una casa con otra y descubre a un joven tendido en un charco de sangre, que consigue exhalar un último mensaje. Este fascinante tercer caso lleno de pistas de Sir Clinton Driffield tiene su origen en un oscuro esquema muy revelador tanto de los medios para asesinar como de sus motivos.

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. … en los Estados Unidos, el autor y crítico de libros Frederic F. Van de Water expresó una opinión casi tan alta de Nueve soluciones para un problema. “Este libro es un pura sangre de un distinguido linaje que se remonta a “The Golden Bug” de [Edgar Allan] Poe”, confesó. “Representa la categoría mas elevada de novela policiaca”. 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: El Dr. Ringwood, que sustituye al viejo Carew, recibe la visita del Dr. Markfield, después de un duro día de trabajo. La visita es interrumpida por una llamada telefónica. Una de las sirvientas de la casa de los Silverdale está preocupada por la otra sirvienta que parece estar gravemente enferma. Toda la familia está fuera y ella no sabe qué hacer. Como el Dr. Ringwood no está familiarizado con la ciudad y hay una densa niebla, teme no encontrar el camino y perderse. Pero el Dr. Markfield se ofrece a guiarlo hasta allí, conduciendo delante de él. Una vez en la calle de su destino, el Dr. Ringwood se confunde a causa de la niebla y entra en la casa de al lado donde parece que no hay nadie. Sin embargo, pronto encuentra a un joven moribundo por heridas de bala que apenas logra balbucear un mensaje críptico y muere. Parece que no hay teléfono en la casa y Ringwood se dirige hacia la casa de los Silverdale, la casa correcta, para llamar a la policía. Después de diagnosticar a la sirvienta con escarlatina, se pone en contacto con el propio Sir Clinton Driffield para informarle de su hallazgo. Sin nada más que hacer por la joven sirvienta, Ringwood decide esperar a la policía en la casa de al lado. A su llegada, Sir Clinton hace uso de sus excelentes dotes de deducción para demostrar que el joven fue asesinado en otro lugar. Luego se dirigen a la casa de los Silverdale, donde nadie responde a su llamada. Cuando finalmente logran entrar descubren que la criada ha sido estrangulada, mientras que la sirvienta enferma ha logrado escapar con vida gracias a su condición.

Disfruté mucho leyendo Nueve soluciones para un problema. La historia es muy interesante y tiene bastante pistas. La trama está muy bien construida y los personajes están muy bien definidos y resultan atractivos. Además, encuentro que el estilo de escritura del Dr. Steward es directo, claro y sencillo, lo que realmente me gusta. Solo para subrayar un pequeño defecto, tal vez, la identidad del culpable se vuelve bastante evidente en un momento dado, en mi opinión. Sin embargo, esto no me ha distraído en absoluto. Además hay que tener en cuenta que el número de personajes no es demasiado extenso. En cualquier caso, a decir verdad, no pude hacerme una idea de la motivación que se escondía detrás de los crímenes. Vale la pena mencionar que en esta entrega, el inspector Flamborough hace de Watson para Sir Clinton en lugar de Wendover y, como lo anticipó antes algún otro crítico, quizás un título más apropiado hubiera sido Nueve posibilidades para un problema. En general, un excelente ejemplo de una novela de detectives clásica, de un escritor que se merece una audiencia mucho más amplia.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro).

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.

Sir Clinton Driffield Mysteries: Murder In The Maze (1927) Spanish title: Asesinato en el laberinto (Siruela, 2018); Tragedy At Ravensthorpe (1927); The Case with Nine Solutions (1928) Spanish title: Nueve soluciones para un problema (Molino, 1954); Mystery at Lynden Sands (1928); Nemesis at Raynham Parva apa Grim Vengeance (1929); The Boathouse Riddle (1931); The Sweepstake Murders (1931) Spanish title: La lotería trágica (Molino, 1941); 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) Spanish title: Los 21 indicios (Molino, 1947); No Past Is Dead (1942); Jack-in-the-box (1944); and Common Sense is All You Need (1947) Spanish title: Solo se necesita sentido común (Reguera, 1948).

En concreto, espero leer a continuación The Sweepstake Murders, The Ha-Ha Case, In Whose Dim Shadow y Jack-in-the-Box.

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