Rufus King // A Variety of Weapons


As for the two drownings in the pretty local lake, such gemlike bodies of mountain water were famous for their icy coldness and their general tricks. A plunge, a gasp, a cramp, a tombstone. Dreiser, Ann thought, in a sentence.



Title:  A Variety of Weapons
Author:  Rufus King
Publisher: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc, 1943 (a Crime Club selection)


Photographer Ann Ledrick accepts a week-long assignment to photograph a pair of ocelots at the isolated estate of the Marlow family, unaware of the family’s dark past with an unsolved murder and their true reason for hiring her.



  • Ann is a feisty and clever heroine, her quick-wittedness matched nicely with the equally astute but more subdued Sergeant Hurlstone. 
  • Black Tor, the Marlow estate hidden away in the Adirondack Mountains and accessible only by airplane, provides a satisfyingly clausterphobic locale for murder. Its eeriness is accentuated by violent thunderstorms which ground all flights out, making escape for Ann—or anyone else—impossible. 

Rufus King’s work is, in my opinion, under appreciated and largely forgotten by today’s mystery readers. He had a knack for writing snappy dialogue and sharp characters, something solidly on display in this tightly plotted mystery. The scenery is vivid (“the windows were sullen oblongs of dark lead ripped at intervals by a blinding jag of lightning, with a resultant shatter of the roar”) and the ambiance is dripping with suspense. Just over 200 pages, this is a swiftly moving story full of deadly charm. 







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