The fishing wasn’t good off Burry Port. It’s so bad that all a man and his son caught was a waterlogged crate which they decide to float onto the beach. Inside is a decomposing body of a man. He has obviously been murdered, the face battered and any means of identification removed. It will take a lot of resourcefulness for Inspector French’s to solve this one.
I love a good Inspector French, and his Sea Mystery investigation definitely hit the spot. This is pure police procedural. Call it plodding, call it humdrum, call it whatever you like, it is still brilliant. Working with little to no information, French ingeniously reverse engineers the crime in order to find the culprit. Analyzing one clue at a time, formulating a theory regarding its significance in the crime, then ticking off problems by thoroughly testing each hypothesis. French inks one clue to the next until he has a chain of evidence in which to wrap his suspect.
Crofts’ plotting is beautiful. By gradually doling out clues, and inserting a red herring or two along the way, he not only enables the reader to play along, but builds up a fair amount of suspense and morphs the case into something quite different from what the reader expected when that crate is pulled from the water.
An absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable procedural, with a complex mystery that leaves you guessing to the end.
My Judgment – 4.5/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2013 Scattergories – #18 Murder on the High Seas
Calendar of Crime – November #6 Original publication month