She Shall Die (Anthony Gilbert)

By Anthony Gilbert

First published: UK, Collins, 1961

Very good indeed.  The plot involves a young woman who is suspected of two murders, and whose husband calls in Arthur Crook to clear her.  Although the atmosphere is domestic, it’s not excessively feminine, and the clueing and plot construction are solid.  Crook himself is a good character, with something of the gusto of H.M.  Really good, well-clued Agatha Christie-type solution, which should be obvious but isn’t.  I suspected the murderer at one point (there are only three main suspects, not counting the heroine), but my suspicions were deflected, and the explanation had several big points that were a total surprise.  I should have known!

Blurb (UK)

1961 Collins

When Arthur Crook’s latest client arrived to consult him, unannounced, at eight in the evening, the redheaded rogue among lawyers already had the published facts of the case at his finger-tips.  No interesting murder case comes to light without Crook keeping an eye on it, and the case against Hatty Savage—young, attractive and with a chip on her shoulder—was making headlines.  Some thought she had been lucky to escape a similar charge not long before and feeling was running high in the neighbourhood.  Crook attacks the case like a terrier a rat and in his own inimitable and explosive way proves his client’s innocence by revealing a cunning killer.  She Shall Die also shows once again that Anthony Gilbert has an incomparable mastery of the detective story which is both highly ingenious and continuously entertaining.

Contemporary reviews

Pat Wallace:

Arthur Crook proceeds to clear up a double mystery with all the ingenuity which his creator has given him and which makes these books of Mr. Gilbert’s such a perennial delight.

NY Her Trib Books (James Sandoe, 29th October 1961, 80w):

The Gilbert mode ranges through the reaches of melodrama, always well played and in this instance with hysteria kept on a good tight leash.  Standard brand in being basically a ritual performance, but set down with apparent relish still.

NY Times (Anthony Boucher, 29th October 1961, 50w):

Our old friend Arthur Crook must share top billing, in Anthony Gilbert’s After the Verdict, with an unusually well-conceived villainess, a sly and unconventional blackmailer of chilling plausibility…  A good story, if a mite slower and looser than Gilbert’s best.

San Francisco Chronicle (L.G. Offord, 10th December 1961, 60w):

Another of this satisfying author’s stories…  Characters and special settings are as warmly and wonderfully done as ever.  You may think you’ve solved this one but equally you may be surprised.