Title: Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery (Julian Rivers #8)
Author: Carol Carnac
First published in 1952; republished by British Library on 10th April 2020
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
Mystery Classics fans are not new to E.C.R. Lorac’s Robert MacDonald series. Lorac also wrote under the pseudonym Carol Carnac. (Carol is Lorac spelt backwards).
I was really surprised to read of Lorac’s involvement in the Detection Club. I admit I haven’t read a lot of Lorac’s work. Having read Murder in the Mill Race (a disappointing read for me), I was in two minds when I learned Carol is Lorac. But, I am happy I gave this book a try because this is, no doubt, a fantastic mystery classic.
First things first, the story begins with a group of sixteen going on a ski trip. If you are like me and have trouble remembering names of all the characters, do not worry. The ones that steal the limelight include Harry, Robert, Inspector Rivers, Biddy and Kate.
Of all the detective novels I have read so far, Crossed Skis is different. And I am a little ashamed to say, ahem, I felt so cheated when the identity of the killer was revealed. I mean, really, I was led, blindly into the trap called red herring. I knew this certain nasty fella was the murderer. I knew it, all right. Gosh, I was so wrong! How did this happen?? Time to hone my detection skills. The real armchair sleuth (Kate), I could use some help here, please!
The story starts with sixteen people – 8 women and 8 men – excited to go on a ski trip in Austria. It’s been a couple of years since WW2 and things are slowly getting back to normal. Amongst the group is in Irishman named Robert O’Hara. He joins the group at the last minute and barely manages to catch the train in time. He’s ragged for it by the men in the group. They even make fun of his non-existent Irish accent.
At the same time, back in London, a body is found in a house. The victim was a lodger and the owner’s son is suspected of setting the house on fire. Soon, more evidence is found and the killer is identified. The problem is, the killer is an excellent skier, and he’s probably halfway through his escape route.
We have two mysteries here. Inspector Rivers has to solve the murder mystery. Then we have the group of sixteen who stumble upon a tiny mystery of their own. As the story proceeds, things start to become clearer and like me, if you too fall into the red herring trap after reading this book, pat yourself on the back. Please. 🙂
Having liked this book, I am now eager to read the latest reprints of MacDonald series. I am glad I gave Lorac another try because honestly, I believe she’s a fantastic writer. (Let me remind you of the red herring if you are still in doubt.)
Crossed Skis is a really good mystery. The characters are well-portrayed and the plot development is good. The ending is simply fantastic. Though 8th in the series, this book can be read as a standalone. So, go ahead, grab your copies and see if you can spot the killer before Inspector Rivers does. *grins*
Before I end the review post, have a look at what my buddies Kate and Laurie think of this book.