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A Puzzle for Fools by Patrick Quentin

A Puzzle for Fools (1936)

by Patrick Quentin

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1102168,753 (3.5)9
Broadway producer Peter Duluth sought solace in a bottle after his wife's death; now, two years later and desperate to dry out, he enters a sanitarium, hoping to break his dependence on drink--but the institution doesn't quite offer the rest and relaxation he expected. Strange, malevolent occurrences plague the hospital; and among other inexplicable events, Peter hears his own voice with an ominous warning: "There will be murder." It soon becomes clear that a homicidal maniac is on the loose, and, with a staff every bit as erratic as its idiosyncratic patients, it seems everyone is a suspect--even Duluth's new romantic interest, Iris Pattison. Charged by the baffled head of the ward with solving the crimes, it's up to Peter to clear her name before the killer strikes again. Reprinted for the first time in over thirty years, A Puzzle for Fools is the atmospheric and complex mystery that first introduced Peter Duluth; the character and his love interest Iris went on to star in eight more novels, two of which were adapted for film. … (more)

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“There will be murder.” At any time, this is an alarming sentence to hear in the dead of night. But Peter Duluth is in a sanitarium, where he’s attempting to stop using alcohol entirely, and hearing voices is particularly alarming in this context. It means that when Duluth launches an amateur investigation (at the behest of the sanitarium’s director), it’s especially hard for him to sort out what’s true and what’s false.

For an amateur-sleuth mystery, this was pretty good. Duluth had immediate stakes in solving the puzzle, had good self-awareness of his amateur status, and wasn’t tempted to take too many unnecessary risks. I liked his narrative voice and was invested in the outcome. And there was just enough sprinkling of Duluth’s life as a Broadway producer that it ticked my “good theatre mystery” box. It got a little bit weird at the end, but it wasn’t entirely impossible, so I will give it that. I’m not sure whether I’d read any more novels in the Peter Duluth series, but this one is worth a gamble if you like American detective fiction. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Sep 11, 2019 |
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It always got worse at night.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Eerste druk heette Rusthuis vol onrust.
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