Mourned on Sunday is the ninth book in the Inspector McKee series by Helen Reilly and the third book by Reilly that I have read. The first one, Lament for the Bride, also featured Inspector McKee of the Manhattan Homicide Squad. In my review, I described that book as a "hybrid, part romantic suspense, part police procedural." That description fits this book as well. The second one was The Dead Can Tell; I found that book too focused on romance and not enough detection. However in all the books I have read, I have enjoyed the depiction of Inspector McKee.
In Mourned on Sunday, Nora Dalrymple has returned to the small town of Silverlock after her husband's death. She hopes to reunite with Roger Thew, a man she had fallen in love with while stil married to her much older husband. However, it turns out that he has married another woman from Silverlock, whose mother has inherited a lot of money. Through a series of strange events, Nora is lured away from her house late at night, and is later accused of the hit-and-run accident which occurred at that time.
The plot is very complex. The injured woman, Sylvia Thew, wife of Roger, remains in very bad condition and cannot testify about her attacker. Inspector McKee shows up in Silverlock and investigates the death of Sylvia's mother, who had fallen from a balcony of her hotel room in his precinct in Manhattan just a few weeks earlier. The reader, being privy to Nora's whereabouts during the attack on Sylvia, knows that she cannot be guilty of that crime. Reilly provides us with many possible suspects from Sylvia's circle of friends and acquaintances with a variety of possible motives. Roger behaves suspiciously and erratically, but no one can prove he has a connection to either crime. In the eyes of the local police, Nora is the most likely suspect for the hit-and-run attack on Sylvia, and there is a witness who saw her car nearby. McKee, however, is almost immediately convinced that someone is trying to frame her.
Mourned on Sunday has elements of the "damsel in distress" story and also bears some resemblance to the "had I but known" sub-genre, but doesn't fit neatly in either. The reader sees most of the story from the point of view of either Nora Dalrymple or Inspector McKee. Nora is a strong woman, capable of taking care of herself, but keeps her own counsel about some facts that could help clear her. McKee stays around in Silverlock with a team of his detectives, working alternately on the suspicious death of Sylvia's mother and the case of the hit-and-run accident.
I enjoyed reading this book, more than any of the other Reilly books I had read previously. I found the ending to be rather outrageous, but there were many clues I missed. I have a few more Inspector McKee books to sample and then I will seek out some others that get the best reviews.
I read this book for the Crimes of the Century meme at Past Offences. The year for this month is 1941. This book did seem to reflect the times, although I remember no mention of the politics at that time. It depicted both big city and small town New York. The focus seemed mostly to be on fairly well-to-do families, although they often complained about having fallen on hard times. Some of them had formerly been relatively poor and then inherited money.
Publisher: Dell, 1944. Orig. pub. 1941.
Length: 240 pages
Series: Inspector McKee, #9
Setting: New York
Genre: Police procedural
Source: I purchased this book.