JUNE WRIGHT – Murder in the Telephone Exchange
June Wright's debut novel, Murder in the Telephone Exchange, made quite a splash in 1948, when it was the best-selling mystery in her native Australia. Wright went on to publish several more top-quality mysteries, but when she died in 2012 at the age of 92, her books were largely—unjustly—forgotten. But when we republished Murder in the Telephone Exchange in 2014, Wright was hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald as “our very own Agatha Christie,” and a new generation of readers fell in love with her inimitable blend of intrigue, wit, and psychological suspense – not to mention her winning sleuth, the young and feisty Maggie Byrnes.
When an unpopular colleague at Melbourne Central is murdered – her head bashed in with a buttinsky, a piece of equipment used to listen in on phone calls – Maggie resolves to turn sleuth. Some of her co-workers are acting strangely, and Maggie is convinced she has a better chance of figuring out the killer’s identity than the stodgy police team assigned to the case, who seem to think she herself might have had something to do with it. But then one of her friends is murdered too, and it looks like Maggie is next in line.
Narrated with verve and wit, this is a mystery in the classic tradition, by turns entertaining and suspenseful, and building to a gripping climax. It also offers an evocative account of Melbourne in the early postwar years, as young women like Maggie flocked to the big city, leaving behind small-town family life for jobs, boarding houses and independence.
“A queen of crime in the tradition of Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham.”—The Age
“A classic English-style mystery . . . packed with detail and menace.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This welcome reissue . . . creates an engaging porthole into the past, with lively characters and inventive plotting.”—Publishers Weekly
“Of considerable interest is [the book’s] series of credible vignettes of Melbourne city life and especially its highly effective sense of how women work together, in both positive and negative ways.”—Stephen Knight, Continent of Mystery