Friday, September 23, 2016
The Blue Santo Murder Mystery - Margaret Armstrong
I just read and reviewed another book by Margaret Armstrong, Murder in Stained Glass. I bought The Blue Santo Murder Mystery at the same time, and I've just bought the last of her three mysteries, The Man With No Face. These are all Kindle books at about $3.99 each. A very good deal, I think.
This book starts a bit backwards, with the news that the richest woman in America, Mrs. Kearny-Pine has disappeared while vacationing in New Mexico. The news is shocking. Then the book moves to Tecos, New Mexico, before Mrs. Kearny-Pine disappears.
The Blue Santo is a hotel, as well as the name of a carved figure over the hotel's mantelpiece. The local Indians / Native Americans consider it bad luck. Mrs. Kearny-Pine wants to buy it. Very badly.
She's not an easy woman to live with, as her younger, philandering husband knows, or to deal with, as her high-living nephew, Algy, or her very nice young cousin, Rosalie, know. Or as many other people know. She wants what she wants and she gets what she wants.
But when she disappears from the hotel, everyone is out looking for her. It's a real puzzle. She's just vanished. Everyone has a theory.
Despite some stereotyping of Indians / Native Americans (this was published in 1941), I think the author did a good job with her characters and with describing the landscape, although I have to admit I've never been to New Mexico. If I'm wrong, tell me. The plot was good, too, ending with a twist just when I thought I knew everything.
I'm eager to read The Man With No Face. There don't seem to be any consistent characters in the three books. I was sorry that Miss Trumbull from Murder in Stained Glass didn't reappear.
While I was trying to find out how many mysteries Margaret Armstrong had written, I found that I probably have some of her books: she was a highly sought-after designer of book covers and book bindings. Before I stopped collecting things, I collected what I call illustrated bindings, those gorgeously decorated books that it would be a shame to cover with dust jackets. Most of her covers were Art Nouveau, a style I particularly like. Some of her art is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and she wrote and illustrated the first book on wildflowers of the American West. A very interesting woman indeed.