A drowned woman's body disappears from a river bank. It reappears in the locked and burglarized workshop of Wotan Grün, an antiquarian bookseller. The only thing noted to be missing is a rare 15th century incunabulum, the envy of several collectors and the bookseller's competitors. The woman is soon identified as the lover of Wotan's son Denis, the morose and cynical black sheep of the Grün household. As the intriguing investigation proceeds the entire household is enveloped in a world of treachery and thievery, murder attempts and suicide, and -- believe it or not -- the search for an alchemy formula for turning lead into gold.
Once again on display a plethora of plot devices and motifs found in the work of their idol Agatha Christie. There are allusions to Evil Under the Sun, Peril at End House, Murder at the Vicarage and the many stage related mysteries she wrote. The two writers come from a theater background and once again dig into their trunk of stage tricks and illusions to bamboozle the reader with dazzling misdirection. There is even some dizzying business with rifles and bullets that reminded me of Erle Stanley Gardner's gun crazy plots. All in all plenty of wizardry and plot machinations to appeal to any fan of the puzzle driven detective novel.
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UPDATE: I have eliminated a sentence above that is untrue. There is no "rigged machinery that John Dickson Carr might have dreamed up" in this book. I confused this with another book that had a similar death, misinterpreted a sentence including the phrase "machinery the murderer had constructed" to be taken literally, and completely misremembered the final death in the book. Utterly embarrassed by this blatant example of my often addled memory.