Antidote to Venom: British Library Crime Classics
Freeman Wills Crofts
Poisoned Pen Press, Jul 7 2015, $12.95
Birmington Zoo Director George Surridge fears his life is near collapse. His marriage appears to be dying; he owes too much money; a disease threatens the animals in his care; and he loves Nancy Weymore. A desperate Surridge considers various options out of his spiraling worse quagmire while praying his elderly rich aunt dies.
New Scotland Yard Inspector Joseph French (see The Hog's Back Mystery) leads the investigation into the murder of a pathology professor. French believes he knows who the culprit is and the weapon; but cannot prove the prime suspect killed the victim in spite of a timetable that affirms the opportunity. French also struggles with how a venomous viper escaped from its Birmington Zoo totally sealed cage.
Told initially by the person who abetted the murderer and ultimately by the inspector, readers know very early on in this 1938 crime mystery the killer’s identity, but not how the homicide was executed. Though the climax feels forced (in fairness part of the era’s approach to justice), the tremendous storyline grips the audience as we learn the methodology.