Eastrepps has always been a peaceful seaside town, where the worse crime Inspector Protheroe has to deal with is a baffling case of poaching. That is, until the night Miss Mary Hewitt is violently murdered while walking home alone. Suddenly Protheroe is dealing with a case that is beyond his capabilities and Scotland Yard is called in. But before they even arrive a second murder occurs, in the exact same way as the first. Even with the arrival of Chief-Detective Inspector Wilkins, the body count rises, and the police are unable to stop the serial killer now known as the Eastrepps Evil.
I found my 1980 Dover edition several weeks ago in a second hand shop. Having never before heard of Francis Beeding (a pseudonym for a pair of writers, John Leslie Palmer and Hilary Aidan St. George Saunders) I was a little leery, but bought it anyway. I’m so glad I did. There’s so much to love about this book. The writing is strong, with a well developed plot and an atmosphere of terror that builds with each murder.
Beeding created some very interesting characters and thereby gives us a number of suspects, all of whom had opportunity. Robert Eldridge, a swindler having an illicit affair with the married Margaret Withers, who just happens to arrive in Eastrepps every time a murder has been committed. Dick Coldfoot, Margaret’s cousin, he know about the affair and is blackmailing Eldridge. Alistair Rockingham, a young man with certain compulsions. And newspaperman William Ferris, vacationing in Eastrepps, and in need of a story. All of those suspects add up to a great deal of misdirection, resulting in an unexpected twist that most readers will not see coming.
This is thoroughly enjoyable, highly readable and highly recommended read.
My Judgment – 4.25/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – Vintage Mystery Challenge 2018: Just the Facts, Ma’am – Why: Author new to me
Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge – Red Herrings: Barking dog, Crime Scenes: Pathway or trail in the woods, Street or sidewalk, Clues and Clichés: Item in newspaper, Footprints, Fingerprints
Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – January #2: Author’s birth month