Chief Constable Sir Clinton Driffield is on holiday for once, going to visit his friend “Squire” Wendover for a spot of fishing. The morning after arriving, though, he is roused at an early hour and called to help in a murder enquiry. A local gamekeeper has been found by the boathouse, shot to death with his own gun.
As investigations proceed it seems as if everyone in the vicinity may have visited the boathouse at some point that night. With the local land-owner’s wife missing and a second body waiting to be found, it seems that the case is going to get a lot more complicated before things get resolved.
Alfred Walter Stewart, under the pseudonym J J Connington, wrote twenty five mysteries, seventeen (according to Goodreads, at least) feature Sir Clinton Driffield. I’ve already reviewed Murder In The Maze (Book 1, I think) and The Case With Nine Solutions (Book 4?) and this is the sixth Driffield outing.
It’s different from what you might expect. It’s a classic mystery in every sense of the word. The plot is logically thought out with plenty of clues for the viewer to latch on to. There are plenty of layers to the mystery and there’s a logical trail to the solution.
But… it’s a curiously detached affair. We exclusively follow Driffield around the whole time and there is little chance to get a feel for the characters involved in the crime. He talks to each of the characters exactly once before the denouement. By only seeing the investigation, it makes it hard to get particularly involved in the tale beyond a logic problem. It doesn’t help that Driffield is a know-it-all who seems to deduce the entire solution immediately and then, when some small clue is discovered, he insists on saying that he expected that. Kind of annoying. I know Poirot does that sometimes, but he keeps it to himself until the end.
So, overall, it’s well worth a look, but it is a little dry in places. Worth a look.