A Dying Fall – Henry Wade (1955)

There’s really nothing at all that interests me about horse races, nor am I that interested in horses.  Credit to Henry Wade then for writing an entire novel deeply entrenched in all things horse, yet somehow leaving me lapping up every page.  Now, I knew that Wade was a talented writer; his Heir Presumptive was a highlight read of 2020, and the murder scene in that story stands out as one of the most visceral experiences that I’ve read to date.  So perhaps it isn’t surprising that A Dying Fall hit the spot for me, horses and all.

A Dying Fall is a mystery in a strange way.  It’s kind of an inverted mystery, with police pursuing horse trainer Charles Rathlyn for the murder of his extremely wealthy wife, except that we don’t really know if he’s guilty.  In experiencing the story through his eyes we know that he had a conflictingly-compelling motive for killing her, but we don’t quite know if he took advantage of her occasional sleep walking and pushed her over a bannister.  The police force are split between whether it was all an accident or murder, and one detective in particular hounds Rathlyn relentlessly.

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Heir Presumptive – Henry Wade (1935)

HeirPresumptiveWell, I guess I’ll be reading everything Henry Wade ever wrote.  I mean, I’ve heard that some of his work isn’t all that great, but man, Heir Presumptive is the type of novel that’ll leave you forever searching for another taste.  And I’ve had it for years, just wasting away at the bottom of some neglected pile of books that I excitedly bought, but then didn’t excitedly read.  Thankfully a glowing review over at The Invisible Event led to me rescuing the book and placing it in the main To Be Read stack… where it sat for another eight months.

But, it has now been read, and I am a full Henry Wade convert.  This is the book that you just never want to end.  There isn’t much of a hook for me to dangle for you – Heir Presumptive is a fairly straight forward inverted mystery – which is why it’s all the more amazing that I lapped up every page.

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