The Man Who Wasn't There
A Sally and Johnny Heldar Mystery
by Henrietta Hamilton
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Pub Date 12 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 24 Aug 2021
The Man Who Wasn’t There is the first of the recently discovered Henrietta Hamilton mysteries to be published and is part of the Sally and Johnny Heldar mystery series.
People who get mixed up in murder cases must expect to be bothered.
And so it is for amateur sleuths Sally and Johnny Heldar late one evening. It seems cousin Tim has found himself in a bit of a pickle: his fiancée, Prue, has reneged on their engagement after becoming a suspect in the murder of her unlikeable employer.
Desperate to win her back, Tim pleads with the Heldars to help clear Prue’s name. But Sally and Johnny find themselves perplexed by the Willow Walk murder. Filled with blackmail and plagiarism, wartime treachery and lying witnesses, the crime-solving duo have their work cut out for them.
But will they be able to help Prue… or is she more wrapped up in the case than Tim realised?
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Average rating from 58 members
Set in 1950s England, young couple Sally and Johnny Heldar are contendly at home at their cottage with their baby when an unexpected interruption adds excitement to their domestic gardening day. Johnny's cousin, Tim, seeks urgent advice regarding his girlfriend, Prue, secretary to cantankerous Frodsham. She may be complicit in a certain letter. After agreeing to marry Tim, Prue gives her boss notice. However, Frodsham is found murdered and Prue is a key suspect so she backs out of the engagement No wonder Tim is desperate for help!
Amateur sleuths Johnny and Sally become involved in the case and go about seeking information in their own way and encounter blackmail, betrayal and links to the Resistance. They discover looks can be deceiving. Inspector Innes from Scotland Yard officially investigates and finds murder is never straightforward, of course. One by one suspects are eliminated with bends and roadblocks en route to the ending. Though predictable, this is a fun (and short!) read. I really enjoy Sally in particular. The descriptions of Poplar Hall and Willow Walk add to the atmosphere.
This book is not quite as fetching as others I have read by this author (my favourite so far is The Two Hundred Ghost) but I am itching to read everything by her I can. I really enjoy her writing style and cleverness. Still well worth getting lost in something light and cozy.
What really fascinates me is that this is one of 13 manuscripts discovered by relatives of the author and this is the first time this book has been published! I am grateful the family decided to share their precious find, a very special important piece of personal history. My sincere thank you to Agora Books and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this book which would appeal to Golden Age readers especially.
I enjoyed this never-before-published 1950s murder mystery in the Sally and Johnny Heldar series. There were many plausible suspects and the ending was satisfying.
I do worry about the baby being always foisted on a babysitter, although I suppose it’s better than putting him in the line of fire of a desperate murderer.
Thanks to the author’s family, publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy in exchange for honest feedback.
I was so excited when I heard tat some unpublished novels in the Johnny and Sally Heldar series had been found. I thoroughly enjoyed the four I already had and had often wished that Henrietta Hamilton had been more prolific. And then it transpired that she had! I did approach the Man Who Wasn't There with some trepidation. Would it be as good as the books published in the author's lifetime. However, I needn't have worried.
The plot centres round Tim Heldar, Johnny's cousin, and his on-off fiancee Prue. Her somewhat unpleasant employer is found murdered on an evening when he had received a number of visitors and various people, including Prue, were noticed in the immediate area of his house. Virtually all of these people had motives for murder but there is little evidence. Johnny is asked by both Tim and the victim's mother to help.
One of the things I like most about these books is that the police are firmly in control of the investigation. Johnny is always clear that anything he and Sally discover must be reported to the senior officer who may or may not reciprocate. And there is never any suggestion that the police are inept and need the Heldars' help. I must confess that I also enjoy the antiquarian bookshop background and I was sorry that it didn't feature more in this novel. But that's a minor issue. The Man Who Wasn't There is excellent and I am eagerly awaiting publication of the other old-new titles.
I've read the three Henrietta Hamilton mysteries with Johnnie and Sally Heldar, and I am absotuely thrilled to find there are six more unpublished manuscripts to come. If they are all going to be like this one I am very satisfied. The same excellent writing as the first, with great detail from the 1950s. Lovely characterisation, very evocative of London in the years immediately after the Second World War. A great read. I'm so pleased Agora Books are publishing these.
Getting mixed up in a murder investigation is par of the course for the sometime amateur sleuths, Sally and Johnny Heldar. Here is no exception when they intervene on behalf of their, possibly hapless, cousin Tim.
The Heldars are both likeable and amenable and make an enjoyable, delightful sleuthing duo. Hugely enjoyable classic crime, fully entertaining with well drawn characters and an engaging plot. A very worthy publication from Agora Books (and part of their ‘Uncrowned Queens of Crime’ series). Highly recommended as is the whole of this series. Top class.
This was a fun read. Like most vintage fiction it is a little postcard from the past. A female suspect`s actions can't be traced because of course she wore gloves all the time she was in public. It is a solidly good puzzle, with a sexualy harassing boss, a man who was in the French resistance, a missing heir, a young couple in love,, and an out of wedlock child grown to manhood. This book is comfort food, a good solid mystery.
Sally and Johnny Heldar have helped solved mysteries before, so when the woman that Johnny’s cousin Tim wants to marry finds herself caught up in a murder case, it’s only natural that Tim turns to them for help. Prue’s employer has been murdered and as a result she’s called off their engagement. Tim is desperate for Sally and Johnny to clear Prue’s name and win her back for him; but the more they investigate, the more complicated the mystery gets, with infidelity and blackmail and wartime treachery to contend with.
I read a previous Heldar mystery, Answer in the Negative, last year and really enjoyed it. I like Sally and Johnny as characters in both books - they have a nice relationship where they both get to do investigating. This is a previously unpublished entry in the series that the author’s nephew discovered in a stash of manuscripts. It’s not known when exactly this was written, but I would guess around the time that it was set - which is the early 1950s. The introduction says it went unpublished because tastes changed, which makes me sad because it’s too good to have only come to light now.
I’ve read a lot of mysteries with roots in the First World War and a lot set in the Wars but not a lot in set in the fifties with links to the Second World War. So this is a nice change. It’s also interestingly twisty, but follows the rules that the clues are there if you know where to look. On the basis of this, I’m hoping that more of the unpublished Heldar books find their way into the light soon.
Having read and enjoyed Henrietta Hamilton’s three available mysteries on Agora Books’ Uncrowned Queens Of Crime list featuring the very appealing young couple Sally and Johnny Heldar, I was pleased to find that Hamilton’s family had come across some previously unpublished works and Agora are planning to publish six over the coming year.
The Man Who Wasn’t There is the first of the six newly discovered manuscripts to be released and what a treat it is.
Johnny’s cousin Tim is engaged to the lovely Prue who finds herself chief suspect in a murder case involving the shooting of her boss, Frenchman Adolphe Frodsham at home in his study. Frodsham’s own mother is so alarmed by this that she calls in Johnny and Sally to help.
This mystery has a good range of suspects and motives to pick from including a long lost criminal brother and various mistresses of Adolphe and their husbands as well as a shady past with the French Resistance during the war. The police don’t feature too much and are amiable about Sally and Johnny’s investigations when they are mentioned. A twist at the end had me totally wrong footed about the identity of the murderer which I always enjoy.
All in all this is a welcome addition to my collection of classic crime and I eagerly await the other five.
Thanks to Agora Books and Netgalley for the ARC.
I am a fan of 'old-fashioned' mysteries, and this one hit all the right notes. It's definitely not groundbreaking, but it is extremely entertaining, and the twist was only obvious at the end. I enjoyed it very much, and think it would make a terrific beach/vacation read.
This is a newly published story written by Hamilton probably written in the 1950's.
Johnny's cousin Tim calls; Tim wants to marry Prue, but she has some kind of trouble. She has been secretary to Frodsham, who has been murdered, and the police think she might be involved. Johnny and Sally agree to help. It seems that Frodsham was sleeping with a married female neighbor, and blackmailing another. Frodsham and his mother have moved to England from France after the war, and Frodsham was involved with the Resistance during the war, and may have made some enemies.
The husband of the woman who was involved with Frodsham disappears early in the case. When someone seems to be trying to kill Prue, they realize she must know something she isn't aware of.
Johnny and Sally need to find the murderer before he commits another murder. The book keeps the reader guessing, and is a great classic crime.
Thanks to NetGalley for introducing me to this engaging mystery. The Heldar's are delightful characters. I look forward to reading more of them. In this first mystery, I especially liked the foreword by the author's nephew.
Previously unpublished Golden-age mystery featuring Johnny and Sally Heldar. Johnny’s cousin comes to him for help when his fiancee becomes a suspect in the murder of her employer, a rather unsavory blackmailer and diabolism enthusiast. Well-plotted and a lot of fun.
The Man Who Wasn’t There by Henrietta Hamilton.
Absolutely loved it. So much in fact that I’ve already bought a copy of another book in the series. This duo reminds me somewhat of the Norths in the series written by Frances and Richard Lockridge in the 1930’s and 40’s. That series is set in New York, with a lot more cocktails and no baby, just a cat named Pete.
I’m looking forward to more in this mid-century cozyish series.
Thanks to Netgalley.
It is always a pleasure to read the latest 'find' as Agora Books republish some of the forgotten classics from the golden age of crime fiction. This is a particular gem, written around 1956, but unpublished until now.
Sally and Johnny Heldar are surely one of the most likeable crime-solving couples ever written with their domestic life of intellectual integrity and background in antiquarian bookselling.
The plot here is clever, with a setting on the banks of the River Thames, and links to the French Resistance.
I applaud Agora Books and Henrietta Hamilton's nephews for allowing a new generation to enjoy this beautifully written mystery.
A romantic cozy mystery in the tradition of Patricia Wentworth and reminiscent of Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence Beresford mysteries, Henrietta Hamilton offers up an intriguing logic puzzle mystery. Although this is 3.5 stars, I chose to rate it higher to increase its visibility and ascertain its worthiness in the British Golden Age mystery category. This is a charming book, and the amateur sleuth being newly married with a baby is a twist on the mold, as is his occupation as an antiquarian bookseller. A quick and entertaining weekend read, Hamilton's way of capturing the feel of a down on his luck aristocrat ousted by Nazi ghouls make this a worthwhile choice.
I really enjoyed this entry in the Johnny and Sally Heldar series by Henrietta Hamilton. The Heldars are a likeable couple with a flair for detection. In this book, Johnny’s cousin Tim needs their help. Tim is engaged to Prue, but Prue has called off the engagement because she is a suspect in the murder of her unpleasant employer. The Heldars turn up several suspects and motives before the murderer is exposed.
This is the fourth book that I have read in this series. This isn’t a very long book and i easily read it in one sitting. The pace is leisurely and the characters are well defined. I hope there are still more books to come in this series.
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