MYSTERY

The Rat Began To Gnaw the Rope

Poisoned Pen: Sourcebooks. (Library of Congress Crime Classics, Bk. 2). 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781464212987. pap. $14.99. M
COPY ISBN
This reissue of the 1943 debut by Louisville lawyer and father of fellow mystery writer Sue Grafton begins with lawyer Gil Henry, the youngest partner in his firm, being hired to investigate a possible sale of some stock Ruth McClure has inherited from her recently deceased father. He was an employee of the Harper Company in the Kentucky town of Harpersville. Gil has an accident on his drive to town; Ruth’s house is searched; and old Mr. Harper, president of the company, town patriarch, and potential buyer of Ruth’s stock, is murdered. Ruth’s adopted brother is quickly arrested for the crime, and Gil becomes his defense attorney. Shorter and pudgier than the typical hard-boiled hero, he uses his legal expertise and sharp wits to dig into the secrets of the town and its ruling family. More murders and the occasional knock on the head do not deter his curiosity or his sense of humor as he works to solve this tangle of crimes, motives, and secrets.
VERDICT Readers who like classic hard-boiled mysteries with a dash of humor will thoroughly enjoy this rollicking, well-plotted work. Fans of Sue Grafton’s writings will read this and appreciate that she came by her talents honestly.

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