“Lord Bygrave left London for the village of Hartwood on Friday, the 1stof the month, intending to spend a fortnight or so in the country. He arrived at the White Bear Inn rather late that night, left early next morning and seems to have vanished completely.”
As the head of the “Ministry of X”, the disappearance of Bygrave creates quite a sensation. Is he simply missing, or has he been murdered? Detective-Inspector Heather of Scotland Yard is sent to investigate. Enter Bygrave’s friend, and his executor and trustee, artist Algernon Vereker, determined to uncover the fate of his friend.
Algernon Vereker is, in Heather’s words a “rum-looking specimen”. An eccentric, determined to be an amateur sleuth, who enters into a rivalry with Inspector Heather to see who will solve the case first. While it is evident that Heather actually has the upper hand in the investigation, Vereker continues along in a very carefree manner, coming to conclusions, which he then blithely casts aside as new information arises.
The mystery is enjoyable and through Vereker’s narration of his theories the reader is privy to the majority of the clues. I say majority because the solution depends on one clue that is held back until almost the very end. There are endless plot twists involving a poor nephew, a mysterious veiled woman, reticent servants, blackmail plots, and romance. But…there has to be a but…much of the story depends on Vereker’s narration of his various thoughts and theories, which seems to drag the story down at times. And, in order to heighten the suspense, Forsythe allows the story to descend into sensation and melodrama, which for me has no appeal, and makes me want to skim just to get past it.
So…a pleasant, yet flawed mystery, and an amusing protagonist, but all let down by the use of sensationalism in the telling of the tale.
My Judgement– 3.25/5