- By Francis Beeding
- First published: UK, 1935
For four-fifths, it’s Croftsian inverted story meets Croftsian police procedural.
We know the crooked moneylender and his secretary killed the suddenly wealthy spinster, and how they concocted a false alibi involving impersonation and transportation. There’s even a plane trip to France. This came out the year after Crofts’ 12.30 from Croydon.
Then we watch the policeman doggedly reconstruct the victim’s movements, and follow leads. More murders follow, including a corpse in a burnt-out car; is it the presumed victim’s, or is it the killer leaving a false trail?
What lifts the book out of the workmanlike is the clever, surprising solution. There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than we think. V unir na vafgvapg sbe n gjvfg. V xarj gung Urqynz jnf vaibyirq – uvf tnzzl yrt, gur npvq-fcynfu ba gur ont, gur oner nez guebhtu gur fubjre – ohg unqa’g ernyvfrq gung gur gjb jrer gur fnzr zna.
I can imagine this being filmed as a 1930s b/w British film, with an exciting flourish at the end.