The Furthest Fury (Wells)

A double murder shocks the cosy Connecticut village of New Midian: Nevin Lawrence and his sister Janet Sayre are gunned down on the same evening. Suspicion falls on nice young Barker Hazelton, who quarrelled with Lawrence on the night of the murder, and on his nice young girlfriend Gladys Lee.

This is one of Wells’s most solid detective stories. Not enthralling, but solid. The set up is less striking than in Wells’s other mysteries – a low-key village affair, without any ghosts, locked room murders, or secret passages – but the detection and mystery plotting are tighter. (Curt Evans, relieved to find one Wells he liked, considers it “a fine book, well worth reprinting”.)

Fleming Stone enters in Chapter XI of XVIII, and does more detecting and reasoning than in many of his cases. He’s not quite so omniscient as usual (hairnets are outside his expertise), and for once we get to follow the great man’s thoughts. The clues are sound (e.g. the difference between a man and a woman’s stance). The murderer is well concealed, but the choice is unsatisfying. Pinning the murderer on a minor character or an outsider (as Street and Lorac – and even Christie – have done) seems cheating, somehow.

Less snobbery, too; Stone’s ally is a quick and intelligent housekeeper, Emma Lily, whom he “treated more as an equal, which in most respects she was”. The local inspector, on the other hand, is “unbalanced”: obsessed with psychoanalysis, he twists every clue to fit his theory.


1924 J.B. Lippincott

A double crime – yet no motive. When Nevin Lawrence and his widowed sister are found murdered by the same hand, there is no clue save the smashed fragments of an exquisite Tanagra figure. And since both have been universally well-liked in the quiet country village in which they have been living for some time, local detectives are unable to establish a motive. Suspicion finally rests upon young Barker Hamilton, who has been known to quarrel with Lawrence on the “wet” issue in a campaign for presidency of the nearby country club. Because of a secret errand of conciliation on the night of the crime, Gladys Lee, Barker’s fiancée, is also involved in the tragedy. It is Gladys Lee, whom Barker is determined to marry in spite of his father’s opposition, who at length induces the elder Hamilton to send for Fleming Stone. Following a trail many weeks “cold”, the well-known detective finds in a trifling occurrence the clue which leads to the unravelling of the mystery. The Furthest Fury is a novel that will particularly delight the many admirers of Carolyn Wells, since it combines with her gift for spinning the rapid complications of a detective story plot, her equally famous touch of humour in the frank curiosity of the boarding-house across the way and the efforts of its volunteer detective to furnish the latest sensation.

Contemporary reviews

New York World (E.W. Osborn, 27th January 1924, 330w)

Boston Transcript (12th March 1924, 300w): Since there are any amount of people who like them, we hope Miss Wells will keep it up.

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