The Yellow Circle by Pearl Foley

F-00367-djFoley, Pearl. The Yellow Circle. Toronto: The Macmillan Company of Canada Ltd., 1937, pp. 315.

Felix Bank cahier Stanley Melton is found dead at the bank one morning.  He has been shot.  Shortly thereafter, news is received that Major Reginald Batts has been killed.   He was in India where he procured rare and valuable art objects for Matthew Craig.  Craig is the vice-president of the Felix bank.  He has the poor manners to get himself shot while a guest at the house of Cynthia and Jara Richmond.  This seriously ruins the weekend party.

Enter Richard North with Bradley Manning, New York’s commissioner of police in tow. North’s relationship to Manning is somewhat unclear.  He, North, does not work for the New York police department but Manning will, under protest of how much paper work he has to do, drop it all and follow North about.  Manning is North’s Watson.

There are dire going’s on.  Mr. North warns of a fiendishly cleaver schemer behind Craigs murder.  The Bengar rubies are missing and so also is the sacred spoon of Bijapur.  Sergeant Steele, our pudding brained and belligerent policeman is all for slapping the Maharaja Reval Sapru into irons and applying a bit of third degree to get some answers.  Sapru was a guest at Mrs. Richmon’s party and is her neighbour.  Grenville Pease, president of the Felix Bank and another guest are similarly inclined when it comes to Reval Sapru.  North, on the other hand, has no bone to pick with Sapru and permits him to leave and move about freely, unsupervised.

Then someone takes a pot shot at Captain Philip Gilbert, guest of the Richmond’s and director of the Felix Bank.  The plot certainly thickens and Richard North is doing something.  Unfortunately, the reader is not informed as to just what it is that North is doing.  He claims to be making progress but the reader does not get to share in his insights, his plans or even in the information he may have obtained.  It leaves the reader somewhat adrift as to just what is happening.  There are lots of questions: Who or what is The Yellow Turban?  Is the fact that Reval Sapru has one significant?  What role does the Felix Bank play in the assorted murders?  How are they, or are they, connected?
The solution is, to my thinking, something of a cheat.  Too much new information is introduced right at the end for this to be a completely satisfying mystery.  Who-done-it is a surprise but then the reader never had enough information to make any kind of educated guess as to the killer or their motives.

Miss. Charlotte Beatrix Foley reportedly worked as an accountant in a Toronto department store.  She also once worked for the Ontario Municipal Board.  She attended the Ontario College of Art and the University of Toronto. Miss. Foley is said to have received inspiration for her plots from her dreams.  Four novels are credited to her, the first under the pen name of Paul de Mar. As an aside, this first novel, The Gnome Mine Mystery, is the first in which Richard North appears.  Miss. Foley also wrote short stories, but I have yet to find any of those.  The Yellow Circle was her final novel.  It was said to have been inspired by tales of her father’s soldering in India.

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