By Henry Wade
First published: UK, Constable, 1928; US, Payson & Clarke, 1928
Last year in THE VERDICT OF YOU ALL, Henry Wade delighted his readers with an ending which was really unusual and new. In THE MISSING PARTNERS he has achieved a better story, compact of excitement and cheerful sleuthing that remains unguessable until the author chooses to reveal it. Devious plotting and careful planning, unexpected explosive revelations and new developments make of this story an exceptionally tantalising problem for the seasoned reader of detective fiction.
Very nearly a classic: financial skulduggery, rum-running and murder in Liverpool, solved by a couple of not too bright young things (middle-class clerks and secretaries) and a rather unpleasant policeman. Unfortunately, the book becomes horribly dull after the 100-page mark, and continues that way for another hundred. This is a pity, for the plot is undeniably clever, full of plots, counter-plots, false trails, disguises, impersonation, and identical twins, and the murderer’s identity a whopping surprise.
Times Literary Supplement (17th May 1928):
James and Charles Morden, partners in a firm of Liverpool shipowners, have disappeared simultaneously, and when James’s corpse is eventually discovered on a mud-bank in a most unpleasantly battered condition, Superintendent Dodd’s view is that Charles is the murderer, so that he is duly arrested in America and brought home. However to Mr. Mildmay (the firm’s fussy little manager) the heavy-jowled Dodd is “one of the stupidest-looking men”, and this opinion is shared by Mildmay’s typist-daughter and by the nimble-witted youth who is courting her, though they in turn are snubbed by Dodd for starting their own “amateur inquiry agency”. In the upshot, while Dodd has reason to modify his contempt for the amateurs, Mr. Mildmay is proved to have been even more seriously at fault in his estimate of Dodd’s capabilities. An ingeniously complicated story, that might, however, well have dispensed with certain irritating facetious touches.
An ingenious and intriguing murder-mystery story. The skilled way in which the various clues are worked into the tangled web is a masterpiece in itself.
When a writer of detective stories names one of his characters Lilith, the experienced reader knows there will be rough work at the crossroads. In ‘The Missing Partners,’ the tangled affairs of James and Charles Morden with their background of legitimate business, rum-running, domestic intrigue, satisfactorily confirm the forecast…a rapidly moving and effective mystery.