PRACTICALLY all modern mystery-detective stories conform to a certain general formula, subject to variations to suit the individual author, of course. There are very clearly defined elements which crop out in every one, sometimes in a slightly different guise, but always distinguishable for what they are. The reason for this recurrence is obvious; these elements are the ones which interest the public and sell the books, and the author has no choice but to include them. Thus we have the love affair between the two principles, gradually developing and providing the happy ending, the clever sleuth, the shifting of suspicion, and finally the fastening of diabolical guilt upon one totally unsuspected. These form' the background which one expects to encounter when reading a mystery story, and they really have but little to do with the effectiveness of the book
All of which is by way of explaining that a pleasant, fluent style can make excellent reading out of what is essentially true. And this is what Mr. Walling has done in "Murder at the Keyhole". He has created characters of a really living and vital type, the sort of people one meets in everyday life, and it is this fact more than anything else that places "Murder at the Keyhole" distinctly above most of its kin.