- First published: 1928
- Available from Dean Street Press
This may well be the most popular detective fiction release of the week. The Puzzle Doctor has prescribed a course of Brian Flynn, now available from Dean Street Press; half the criminous blogosphere has read it; and the verdict has been unanimously in favour. The ‘eyes’, to to speak, have it.
We have monarchs blackmailed with incriminating documents on the eve of their wedding; a jewel stolen from an Indian temple; and a dead girl in a dentist’s chair.
The middle of the book seems a typical, workmanlike English Realist detective story. There are a few clever twists at the start of the book, as the police establish the victim’s identity, but then (alas! …?) routine apparently takes over. Amateur sleuth (one Bathurst) and his police ally (Chief Inspector Bannister) question hotel staff and bank managers, search bungalows, and trace bank notes, just as in Freeman Wills Crofts or John Rhode.
Persevere, though! Note that ‘seems’ and ‘apparently’. This is cleverer stuff than it appears. All the while, Flynn is planting smacking great clues under our noses, and we’re closer to the murderer than we suspect.
The final stretch gathers speed, as Bathurst asks seemingly meaningless questions – the sort that tell him much, but the obtuse reader little – and hints at dark deeds. The murderer’s identity should surprise most people; I’d read Scott Sutherland’s Blood in Their Ink, so I was forewarned, but not forearmed. (I’m neither a quadruped nor a Hindu god.) I suspected the name whispered in a certain ear. The clueing is fine, subtle stuff (we’re almost in Carr territory), and the false assumption right at the start is delicious.
Thank you, Steve! I’ve just bought the first two in the series.