Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Golden Age (9) : The Pit-Prop Syndicate

The two most common themes in Golden Age detective literature were the enthusiastic amateur detective and the steady plodding police professional. Ingeniously Freeman Wills Croft has combined both in this tale of smuggling and murder.

The first part of the book (the two parts are actually titled "The Amateurs" and "The Professionals") describes how a wine merchant touring South West France comes across a mysterious English lorry which for an unfathomable reason has changed it's number plate. As he investigates further with his friend he discovers mysterious goings on in a remote yard and a coaster that regularly travels to England. Are they smuggling brandy?

Eventually in part 2 the police are called in as the plot is far too dangerous for our amateurs, especially after one of the gang members is murdered in London. A complicated plot is uncovered by our Scotland Yard detective involving secret tunnels, dedicated telephone lines and other mysterious goings on. It can be quite intricate a plot at times, maybe even rather dense but enjoyable in how it all comes together. Freeman Wills Croft really did know how to write an engaging crime novel.