'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rayton: A Backwoods Mystery by Theodore Goodridge Roberts

This 1912 Canadian mystery novel is set among lakes and forest where the sporting life is enjoyed by both the settlers and the wealthy sportsmen who regularly come north for the salmon fishing.

Marked cards!
There is no murder in this mystery. The mystery is a family curse, on it's third generation. While playing cards one of the gentlemen is dealt a card with a mark on it. Two red crosses. Jim Harley gets very upset about this. We find out that his grandfather and his father have both had this same thing happen to them before they married his grandmother and mother and terrible things began happening to the men who loved those women ending with his grandfather and father's deaths. Jim's sister, Nell, a stunning beauty like her mother and grandmother is single and Davy Marsh is crazy about Nell and he gets the crosses on a card. Jim wants Davy to leave the settlement to save his life. The men think it is silliness and someone in the group is having a good time at their expense. But when Davy almost drowns in a canoe accident and his hunting camp burns to the ground, some of them aren't quite sure. 

Davy Marsh
Reginald Rayton is the easy going Englishman, new to the settlement and Jim Harley's best friend. Rayton is in love with Nell too, as are most of the single men in the settlement! He is determined to get to the bottom of this silly curse. Enter Mr. Banks, a wealthy New York businessman who came for a hunting trip with Davy Marsh. Due to Davy's string of bad luck the hunting trip is off and Rayton offers Mr. Banks a place to stay and takes him hunting. Mr. Banks and Rayton become fast friends and after another game of cards, more red crosses, this time on Rayton's cards. Rayton is shot in the shoulder while hunting in the woods and nearly dies! Now Mr Banks get down to the serious business of finding the truth!
Nell and Rayton after he is shot

Who could it be, Dr. Nash, Capt. Wigmore or his strange sidekick, the young trapper and guide Dick Goodine? Or is there really a curse? Who will win Nell's hand? and will they end up in the grave for having won it?

This was a little slow moving, but I was drawn in and had to plod along and find out who or what was up with those red crosses and who would win Nell. I was glad I did at the end. It had a very exciting ending with a nice little twist. There were nice descriptions of the backwoods country and animals and fun old timey language like "Well, it beats me to a standstill." and 'But, jumpin' Moses, I must think somethin'." Attractive pencil drawings through out. All in all it was a nice story and I would read more by this author.

You can get this in ebook format free @ Project Gutenberg w/illustrations!
for Nook @ Barnes & Noble
in paperback @ Amazon 
or read it online @ Google Books
Two other titles by this author are available free @ Many Books
This author will work for you if you are doing the Canadian Book Challenge over @ Book Mine! 

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  1. Peggy, Thanks for this suggestion for the Canadian Book Challenge. And it is a vintage mystery too.

    1. Your welcome Tracy! Susanna Kearsley is a Canadian too. She writes historical, suspense, romance novels. The library should have her books. I'm reading my second one now and just found out she was born in Ontario!

    2. Thanks for another suggestion. I will look into her books. The setting of some her books sound interesting too.


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