First published: UK, Hodder & Stoughton, 1947
When Pickford’s body was found hanging from a beam in his garage, Inspector Loxton was sure that it was a case of suicide following upon a series of financial and domestic worries. Then came the criminological expert with his slogan: “Common sense is all you need!” and in ten minutes he upset the inspector’s hypothesis. Further evidence pointed so clearly in one direction that the arrest and conviction of the criminal seemed almost a pure matter of form. But both the inspector and the expert were astray, and it was left to the Chief Constable to clear up the mystery. The reader must learn for himself what parts were played by the St. Rule’s Treasure, the blackmailing of Inderwick, the love affairs of Mrs. Pickford and Diana Herne, the hobbies of Collingbourne, the paper salvage campaign, the American book collector, the telescope at Friar’s Pardon, and the death of the bookseller in an air raid. As usual, Mr. Connington scrupulously supplies his readers with every relevant piece of evidence.
Connington’s last novel, and pretty bad. It’s slow-moving, painfully obvious, and marred by contradictions and carelessness (e.g., Dr. Goldsmith is told of Tibberton’s death in an air-raid twice).
A librarian named Pickford is found hanging in his garage, apparently a suicide — but Professor Dundas, relying on Goddefroy’s method, proves murder. Was Pickford’s unhappy marriage the motive for the murder? Or is the motive one of two possible treasures: the Treasure of Abbot St. Rule’s, supposed to have been buried at the time of the Visitation of the Monasteries; or a possible manuscript?
It shouldn’t take much intelligence to suspect that the Abbot’s Treasure is a red herring. Nor does it take much more intelligence, in a book with Shakespearean scholarship at its core, to work out what — in a chapter written in Cockney — “code Hicks,” “anathewe,” “Testament”, and “hundred thousand” could possibly mean. Everybody in the book (obviously there’s an epidemic of idiocy) believes it refers to an individual named Hicks, but you, O intelligent reader, should know what it really means at once, without having to tax your brains. The murder of the chief suspect and a spot of blackmail don’t help.
Driffield only appears (and is first mentioned) on page 131, and dully detects; Wendover appears in the first two chapters and is then forgotten about until Sir Clinton’s entry; and most of the detection is done by the unlikeable and inconsistently characterised Inspector Loxton. The murderer’s identity is as obvious as the motive.