Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Virginia Perdue - The Case of the Grieving Monkey (1941)

"On Monday night at eleven o'clock the monkey died."

Virginia Perdue has written two mysteries featuring Eleanora Burke, a five foot eleven, two hundred pound investigator for the district attorney's office whose size makes her a worthy adversary but who is not without a trace of insecurity and sentimentality. The first of the two, The Case of the Grieving Monkey, involves Burke in a case of attempted murder by poison. Marian Gantley, a wealthy explorer with a home in the Hollywood hills, is convinced that on two occasions someone has tried to poison her and the second attempt would have been successful had not a glass of cyanide laced milk been drunk by her pet marmoset. Adopting the guise of being an old friend of Marian's, Burke sets out to discover which member of the household could be the culprit with a penchant for poison; Julian, Mrs. Gantley's much younger, philandering husband; her secretary and Julian's mistress; her seemingly neurotic sister-in-law and her estranged husband; or Gretel, her German cousin who seems a little too admiring of Hitler. And what about Thompson, the chauffeur, who seems to be doing a little investigating of his own? It's not long before murder pays a visit to the estate's monkey house.

The Case of the Grieving Monkey features a likable heroine (whom the author thankfully did not make into a Bertha Cool-like caricature), and a brisk pace. Not a great mystery, as there's no real surprises or twists, but a quickly read, entertaining story. This was followed the following year by The Case of the Foster Father.

Incidentally the titular monkey doesn't have much importance to the story, grieving or otherwise.


  1. Another new author! Sounds interesting even if the mystery isn't very intricate. I wonder why the emphasis on the monkey in the title and cover if it really didn't feature much in the story?

  2. I have ALARUMS AND EXCURSIONS by Perdue and it's lined up for my Mt. TBR challenge. That one shows up on "Best of" lists all over the place. Hope it proves to be better than this one.