- By Brian Flynn
- First published: UK: John Long, 1932
- Availability: Dean Street Press, 2020, introduction by Steve Barge
A homicidal maniac is striking down residents of the quiet Essex town of Chelmersley. Walter Fredericks, a wealthy cinema owner, is found with his throat cut; another victim is shot through the head; and a cinema confectionery seller is stabbed to death. Suspicion falls on Otto Kreutz, a mysterious German hairdresser’s assistant. Fortunately Anthony Bathurst is on hand to unmask “the Eagle”…
Apparently, this is one of Flynn’s rarest books; unfortunately, his stab at the Murder Gone Mad sub-genre is disappointing. It lacks the sense of place and scale, of steadily mounting tension, of terror and panic in MacDonald’s classic. There is the usual cleverness with identity, and the return of a lady from Bathurst’s past. But Flynn really doesn’t play fair here. There is no way the reader could deduce the culprit or the motive; Bathurst doesn’t share his clues (mainly obtained through burglary) with the reader until after the solution. We don’t have a chance to solve the mystery for ourselves. The one legitimate clue – a cryptic Bible reference – is slender and obscure. We also have to endure an unsympathetic narrator, a sententious, self-satisfied, madly jealous fellow who wants to punch witnesses in the face. Flynn has done (and no doubt will do) much better.
For a more enthusiastic review, see Steve Barge’s article.
NOTES: 107: Gaboriau’s Lecoq; 133: Holmes and the trained cormorant; 141: Hanaud