The house of the title is the home of Maurice Mostyn and the strange guests are the various people who he invites there to discuss private business. All of the guests show up under aliases, and according to the butler Summers often forget their name and sign checks under different names. The book opens with the report of the death of Mr. Mostyn who is found dead in his bath in a gas-filled bathroom. Suicide is almost immediately ruled out based on the position of his body and the discovery of rubber gloves the maid used in a place where they shouldn't be. Interrogation of the suspects reveals that they are all glad the man is dead. After some prodding from Inspector Hallows and Rev. Buckle (who was among the guests in disguise) we learn that all the guests were victims of an intricate blackmail scheme. The autopsy reveals that Mostyn was poisoned with a rare toxin called strophanthin and that it was administered in his toothpaste. After some routine grilling of the suspects the story takes an interesting turn when Buckle starts his own investigations.
He is fascinated with the household accounts, the manner in which the bills are paid, and three hidden safes in the Mostyn home. One of these safes is custom made and its odd combination lock requiring two separate combinations (one with letters, one with numbers ) as well as a key piques Buckle's interest. He tracks down the safe maker and learns several interesting things that only confirm Buckle's suspicions and eventually lead to the discovery of the murderer. If the denouement unveils one of mysterydom's most groan inducing clichés the writing and the story are lively enough to forgive Brady's lack of invention.
|John V Turner (aka Nicholas Brady)|