Men had died before in Haunted Mine, but not by bullets!
Fire rages through Haunted Mine, economic mainstay of the coalmining town of Genesee, Colorado. Some miners have been rescued, but seventeen still are tragically trapped in the mine’s depths. Tony Sheridan, the handsome, outgoing and seemingly much-adored nephew of Genesee’s “benevolent despot,” old Matthew North, heroically descends to the bottom of the mine in a desperate last effort at rescue. He does not return, however, nor do any of the missing men. All hope is abandoned, the ventilating shaft is shut off and both downcast and upcast are covered over by boards.
Five weeks later, after the fire has exhausted itself, the shafts are opened and men descend to clear out the wreckage. At the foot of the main shaft Tony’s scorched body is found—with a bullet through his heart! The bullet entered from the young man’s back in such a way as to preclude suicide.
The seventeen men whom Tony had tried to rescue are found dead in the mine behind a half-built barricade, under such circumstances that beyond any possibility of doubt they all must have been dead long before Tony made it into the mine.
So who or what on earth could have killed Tony Sheridan?
Originally published in 1930, The Owner Lies Dead was one of the best reviewed detective novels of the year in both the United States and the United Kingdom, praised not only for its superlative murder puzzle but for its being “that very rare thing—a first-class thriller which is also a novel full of human interest and sound psychology” (Spectator). As Dashiell Hammett, who himself knew a thing or two about murders in mining towns, declared in the Saturday Review of Literature, “it’s good.”
This reprint edition includes bibliographic introduction by mystery fiction historian Curtis Evans (thepassingtramp.blogspot.com).
For more fantastic vintage mysteries, check out CoachwhipBooks.com.