A Country-Asylum Murder
If I get a bad grade on my O. chem. midterm I'm blaming this book. It was given to me to read while I was in the middle of studying and it caused some sizable breaks in my attempts to learn what a carboxylic acid is. Needless to say, I found it pretty engrossing, or at least more than my textbook.
A Puzzle for Fools is essentially a country house murder, with the twist being that it's set in a mental hospital. It has the set group of people who could be suspects, the limited setting and the basic interactions, the doctors take the role of the hosts, the staff of the servants etc., that are typical to that classic genre of mysteries, but the setting itself give a flair of the unusual.
The story is narrated by Peter Duluth, a recovering alcoholic who is among the more sane of the inmates of the asylum. By virtue of his sanity, and the fact that he discovers the bodies, Duluth is taken into the confidence of the authorities and tries to solve the mystery on his own. The murderer starts with a campaign of frightening various inmates and using their neuroses to his advantage. He (and I should mention that I'm using the indefinite pronoun here) then moves on to a particularly gruesome and brutal murder.
To criticize, I would say that the murderer is a bit to miraculous, has too many skills that just happen to be perfect for the job at hand. It's not entirely believable and tends to the melodramatic. The other problem is that it got very confusing at the end, when I was certain that it had been stated that one person was the murderer, but then the very characters that made the statement seemed to ignore and forget it, leaving a welter of confusion that was never cleared up.