From the Collins Crime Club archive, the forgotten second novel by Freeman Wills Crofts, once dubbed 'The King of Detective Story Writers' and recognised as one of the 'big four' Golden Age crime authors.
When the body of Sir William Ponson is found in the Cranshaw River near his home of Luce Manor, it is assumed to be an accident - until the evidence points to murder. Inspector Tanner of Scotland Yard discovers that those who would benefit most from Sir William's death seem to have unbreakable alibis, and a mysterious fifth man whose footprints were found at the crime scene is nowhere to be found....
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A classic whodunnit
This is actually a silly question: if I had read the print version, I wouldn't be listening to the audiobook!
However, this book works very well in audio, thanks in no small part to the very good narrator. Stephen Critchlow manages the different voices and accents well so as to give colour to the characters and to make them easy to tell apart, as well as giving a good clear account of the actual story.
This is similar to many of the other classic mysteries of the period by people like John Bude: the process of working out the answer is convoluted, and the evidence unfolds before the reader in the same way it does before the detective. Unlike some writers of the period (notably Agatha Christie), Crofts 'plays fair' and doesn't make the denouement depend on some unknown event that is logistically feasible but psychologically impossible.
The inspector's dogged courtesy and tenacity make him very likeable.
It is intellectually entertaining rather than emotionally moving, but I found it absorbing and enjoyable.
I do wish we could write free comments, rather than the stilted, pointed questions. They so often are inappropriate to books I would like to review!
- Kl Love