The Z Murders
J. Jefferson Farjeon
Poisoned Pen/British Library Crime Classics, Sep 1 2015, $12.95
Riding the rails to foggy London, Richard Temperley increasingly becomes frustrated and angry at an elderly loud mouth when he is awake and even louder snorer disturbing the passengers. Thus when his train arrives at atmospherically depressing Euston Station, Temperley feels relief as he assumes no more of this boor. Since his flat is rented out for another week and not wanting to wake up his sister’s household at 5 AM, Temperley checks into a hotel just across from the station. To his chagrin, the irritant John Amble goes there too. Ample falls asleep in an armchair, but someone fires a shot through a window into his heart.
Police Detective Inspector James leads the investigation. He finds a red metallic token shaped like the letter Z near the victim. Like others at the hotel, James also questions Temperley, who conceals from the DI that a woman he earlier noticed vanished. Though he cannot explain why even to himself, Temperley searches for the missing female.
Mindful of the 1959 Hitchcock film North by Northwest, this reprint of a thrilling 1932 suspense grips the audience from start to finish. Although filled with too much happenchance, J. Jefferson Farjeon (see recently republished Thirteen Guests) provides a fun “historical” amateur sleuth starring foggy London, a bungling hero, a femme fatale damsel in distress and a diligent killer.