Cold Steal Author(s) Phoebe Atwood Taylor (writing as Alice Tilton) Country United States Language English Series Leonidas Witherall mysteries Genre(s) Mystery novel / Whodunnit Publisher Norton (1st edition, USA, 1938); Collins (1st edition, UK, 1940) Publication date 1939 (1st edition) Media type Print; hardcover and paperback ISBN 978-0881502695 OCLC Number 31943269 Preceded by The Cut Direct Followed by The Left Leg
It's a winter day in Dalton (a New England town near Boston) and Leonidas Witherall, "the man who looks like Shakespeare", is returning to his new house, which he's never seen. He's inherited money from an uncle and toured the world, and left plans for his home to be built while on his travels, but now he must return home and produce the next volume of the adventures of Lieutenant Haseltine. On the train to Dalton, he meets a mousy woman named Miss Chard (known to all as Swiss Chard) and a beautiful young woman with a brown paper package and a secret. His new home proves a delight, and it includes a kitchen filled with red appliances, a library with ladders, and a garage complete with the pickaxed corpse of Medora, the crabby next-door neighbor. Leonidas assembles a gang of assistants, including dotty housewife Cassie Price and former car thief Cuff (who has reformed and joined the police force). Together, they defend Witherall's new red refrigerator against thieves, track down the missing envelope of money and bring the murderer to justice.
Literary significance & criticism
(See Phoebe Atwood Taylor.) This is the third Leonidas Witherall mystery novel and it parallels the tone which was maintained in the other seven. A murder occurs under embarrassing circumstances, and Leonidas forms a motley crew of assistants together in order to track down clues, chase around the town, and solve the mystery. There is a strong vein of humor and the plot is fast-moving.
The adventures of Leonidas Witherall were a short-lived radio series at about the time of this novel. In the novels, Witherall is also the author of a radio series and novels about the adventures of stalwart Lieutenant Hazeltine. Some supporting characters, such as Mrs. Price and Sergeant Cuff from this novel, are found in others as well.
Asey Mayo volumesThe Cape Cod Mystery (1931) · Death Lights a Candle (1932) · The Mystery of the Cape Cod Players (1933) · The Mystery of the Cape Cod Tavern (1934) · Sandbar Sinister (1934) · Deathblow Hill (1935) · The Tinkling Symbol (1935) · The Crimson Patch (1936) · Out of Order (1936) · Figure Away (1937) · Octagon House (1937) · The Annulet of Gilt (1938) · Banbury Bog (1938) · Spring Harrowing (1939) · The Criminal C.O.D. (1940) · The Deadly Sunshade (1940) · The Perennial Boarder (1941) · The Six Iron Spiders (1942) · Three Plots for Asey Mayo (1942) · Going, Going, Gone (1943) · Proof of the Pudding (1943) · The Asey Mayo Trio (1946) · Punch With Care (1946) · Diplomatic Corpse (1951) Leonidas Witherall novels as "Alice Tilton" As Freeman Dana
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