せっかくのDress upも あなたには見えてないし
「As The Dew」 （Garnet Crow）
It's raining unfortunately, but let's still go out as we planned
It's not like you had even noticed I'm all dressed up for this
"As The Dew" (Garnet Crow)
My post and introducing quotes titles are always mystery-related, but lately, it's been more like music-from-mystery-shows-and-games related...
Christianna Brand's Death in High Heels (1941).
I haven't read much Brand, but the two books and one movie I've seen all starred her Inspector Cockrill. Death of Jezebel also had Inspector Charlesworth making an appearance, and I was quite surprised at that at the time because I hadn't known that Charlesworth was another of Brand's series characters. Death in High Heels was both Charlesworth and Brand's own debut novel and this novel was written based on Brand's own working experience in a dress shop, which she apparently didn't like really much. One problem I had with this book was that a lot of the female characters kinda resembled each other, and while they may have felt all distinct to Brand (I think the girls were based on her co-workers), it was quite hard to keep all the girls apart, as they act so alike (still not as bad as Arisugawa Alice's Gekkou Game, which featured like seventeen students).
I mentioned in my review of Death of Jezebel that Brand's mysteries seem to feature two points: fake solutions and a crime commited under observation. These two elements are featured up to some extent in her debut novel, but nowhere was good as in her later work. Oxalic acid appears very early on stage, but even though the poison moves from one person to another several times, enough witnesses remain who all claim that none of the poison could have been stolen for use on the victim. A lot of attention is given to the observed movements of the poison, but the way it is presented to the reader is quite bad: it's hard to follow and it is difficult to visualize what Brand really meant. It could, and really should have been described and presented much better (with little diagrams or something like that). Also, character momevent is also fairly important and it would have helped my enjoyment of the book a lot if it had included a map of Cristophe et Cie, for it really helps figuring out the mystery, but it is hard to decipher the layout of the store just based on the prose. Then again, I usually think that maps can improve any mystery story.
Death in High Heels does not really feature fake solutions in the sense of carefully constructed alternative hypotheses, as much as just 'we don't have enough evidence to rule things out, so we have enough room for a myriad of possible solutions'. The plot meanders quite a bit actually and can get quite boring as little progress is made in the investigations for a long time. The plot also involves a lot of stacked coincidences, which can work to make a mystery more interesting, but here it makes a rather minimalist plot drag even more. The final answer features an okay hint, but it appears so late in the story that it feels rather artificial, as the incubation time of the hint and the revelant information is just too short.
The book has a certain Christie-esque vibe to it, by the way. From the women to the poison-centered story and even the final hint, I can't help but thinking Brand was inspired by Christie here and I wonder what Christie would have done with the same plot.
Death in High Heels is an okay detective story, but I didn't enjoy it as much as her later novels. It all feels less polished, less readable, less entertaining than later books and I definitely recommend those books over this one.