The Hog's Back Mystery: British Library Crime Classics
Freeman Wills Crofts
Poisoned Pen Press, Jul 7 2015, $12.95
Thirty miles from London at the Ash Train Station in Surrey, Julia Earle welcomes two visitors (her sister novelist Marjorie Lawes and their friend Ursula Stone) she has not seen in years. Not long after the trio call on another school mate Alice Campion.
Soon after their arrival, Julia’s husband retired doctor James vanishes from their St. Kilda home near the Hog’s Back Ridge. Arriving by train, Scotland Yard Inspector Joseph French leads the investigation into what he assumes is a domestic dispute most likely due to infidelities. He revises his first impressions when Superintendent Sheaf explains that only the two siblings were home when James failed to return from a walk. Soon after others also disappear before the first corpse is found.
This is a reprint of a terrific 1933 rural British police procedural. Most of the storyline centers on French’s inquiry as he struggles to find motives and breaking alibis while slowly putting together a timeline (reminds me of Canadian Constabulary Detective Murdoch’s chalkboard). The convoluted whodunit and why make for an interesting read although the storyline’s intriguing methodology also keeps readers at armchair’s length from the mostly off-page action.