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Publisher's Summary

On a foggy night in Hampstead, London, a party has gathered in an artist's studio to weather the wartime blackout. A civil servant and a government scientist match wits in a game of chess while Bruce Manaton paints the portrait. 

In the kitchen, Rosanne Manaton prepares tea for the charlady of Mr Folliner. When the murder of 'Old Mr. F' is discovered by his Canadian infantryman nephew, it's not long before Inspector Macdonald of Scotland Yard is called to the scene. But even at first glance the case looks far from black-and-white. Macdonald and the CID set to work separating the players from the pawns to shed light on this toppling of a lonely king in the dead of night.

©1944 The Estate of E.C.R. Lorac (P)2021 Soundings

What listeners say about Checkmate to Murder

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

LESS THAN MORE

I enjoyed two other novels by this author, especially Murder By Matchlight but this one was irritating and ultimately not entertaining at all. I was glad to end it. The plot is too implausibly complicated and the characters uniquely unlikeable. The Inspector is really no more than a subtitle. Not recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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Great old classic mystery by one of the greats

Happy to get to hear one of the hard to get classic mysteries and made even more enjoyable by a gifted reader

2 people found this helpful

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rousing good tale in wartime England

In the midst of WWII England, blackouts, fog, murder, theft and a fist full of unbreakable alibis. Another great Lorac story beautifully performed by Thorpe. Highly recommended.

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A Crime Against Writing

Narrator Davis Thorpe: A+

Out of every 10 British Library Crime Classics, every 1.89 to 2.03 is a decent mystery. The rest are the literary equivalent of a Urinary Tract Infection. Checkmate to Murder is considerably worse than a UTI, something more akin to a 6 month losing battle with acute feline pancreatitis.

After 30 hours of uselessly mucking about, in the penultimate chapter, the detective solves the murder by 1) sneaking into a room, and 2) overhearing the criminals confess to the crime.

E.C.R. Lorac writing a mystery novel is like... Imagine a Tango competition (Tango here, is a metaphor for the Mystery as such, the genre of Mystery writing) with the world's finest tango-ists (actual mystery writers). An overconfident moron with no sense of shame (here played by our friend E.C.R) enters the competition with forged bona fides (played by the publisher) and prances about on stage with a rose between her teeth, a funny hat, throws in some karate kicks, a pirouette or two, maybe pauses in the middle to do a crossword, flosses a bit, orders a drink, and as the music stops, attempts a tango close by doing the splits and ripping her pants.

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As good as the other Loracs!

Opens with a scene that could have been written for the theater. Possibly some readers found this a bit odd but I felt that it worked quite well. McDonald was his usual highland self and I could not find much fault with his performance either. The plot was no more unrealistic than most detective plots from this era. The wartime mood with blackouts and so on seemed right to me. Al very good book in my opinion and the reading quite enjoyable.

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  • Val
  • 08-25-21

Clever twisting plot

The period detail and evocation of war-time poverty were very good, and the basic plot very clever indeed. Any rather old-fashioned clunkiness in the denouement was mitigated by the excellent narration.

1 person found this helpful