Friday, October 15, 2010

Witness at Large by Mignon G. Eberhart

book cover

Witness at Large
by Mignon G. Eberhart

ISBN: 0446312053
Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Warner Books
Released: 1966, 1983

Source: Bought at a library book sale.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Death walks a fog-shrouded island. The pretty young girl called Sister sees Tom, the man she secretly loves, pulling a woman's body from the water--or is he dumping it?--while holding a hammer in his hand. No, she's certain that Tom would never kill. But if they report the death as a murder, Sister's testimony will surely make Tom the top suspect.

At the urging of their adoptive father and his lawyer, Tom agrees to present the death as a tragic accident and marry Sister so she can't be forced to witness against him. But the unknown killer is still out there, and Sister saw something that she doesn't realize is significant. As she tries to figure out who the murderer is, the murderer moves to strike again...

Witness at Large is a suspenseful mystery with a historical flavor since it was written in 1966. The details about the characters and setting were good. The suspense was created from the relationship tensions (including Tom's fiancée trying to win Tom back when Tom and Sister suddenly marry) and the subtle threats the murderer is leaving for Sister. The characters were interesting but didn't have much depth. While I did suspect who the murderer was, I wasn't sure until very near the end and shortly before Sister figured it out. So it was an enjoyable "puzzle" mystery.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as an enjoyable mystery that's similar in style to Agatha Christie's.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
We spent the winters in the house on Seventy-second Street; we spent the summers on the island. When you are very young you feel that your life is safe, that nothing can change it and it will go on forever just as it is. You also feel that you yourself will never change.

At eleven o-clock on a Friday night in June, I would have said that I was a perfectly conventional young woman. I believed that I told the truth; I also believed that I tried to do what was right and to think what was right, which is different and harder. This changed when, later, I went back down the forty steps.

There was a heavy fog that night. I went down the steps cautiously; there were occasional lights about waist-high, but there were treacherous spaces of darkness between the low lights. I had nearly reached the beach when I heard some sort of sound like a hollow thump upon wood. I looked up then and saw Tom. The light which always shone at night from the sea side of the boathouse was dimmed by the fog, but I saw Tom. He was leaning over, crouched down above the water. The fog was thick but I saw a bare white leg flop over the pier and then flop down into the black water again. I knew it was Mildred. I ran down the few steps and across the little beach.

When I reached Tom he was still kneeling, staring down into the black water. Then I saw a hammer in his hand.

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