Virginia Rath has, in the character of Michael Dundas and his wife Valerie, created as intriguing a couple as have appeared between the covers of a mystery story since the now historic The Thin Man. And Death Breaks the Ring is another step upward in Mrs. Rath’s steady climb to the top of the mystery field.
In this story Valerie’s plaguing and persistent desire to see more and better mountain scenery involves Michael in a chain of murder that leads from a mountain-resort hotel to a dramatic conclusion at a fantastic costume party on a California ranch. Michael had no difficulty in ascertaining that both murders were the result of involved relationships existing between three San Francisco families. That was apparent. But the antagonism of these families created an impregnable wall through which he could not penetrate. When, however, he had interpreted the cryptic message on the sheet of paper attached to the three fishing flies, he had made the first small gap in a wall which was eventually to crumble at his feet. His interpretation of this message, plus his psychological understanding of the irrational behavior of people in love, were the means whereby Michael in the end brought to heel a murderer who was tangible proof of the trite remark that all is not what it seems.
The amazing conclusion of this story is only one of the many features of an engrossing and puzzling book—a “must” item for every mystery fan.
Death Breaks the Ring was published in 1941.
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