Mrs. Elsie Vane’s body has been found at the bottom of the cliffs at Ludmouth Bay, but it appears that Inspector Moresby from Scotland Yard isn’t satisfied with the verdict of accidental death. The Daily Courier wants to know why and sends Roger Sheringham, their sometime Special Correspondent, to investigate. With his cousin Anthony in tow, he proceeds to do a little amateur detecting, and theorizing, of his own. There are a number of suspects including the husband, a jealous wife in the neighborhood, a young lover, and a pretty cousin who Anthony promptly falls in love with. Roger stumbles upon clues, picks Moresby’s brain, and devises theory after theory in an attempt to out detect Inspector Moresby, and uncover the killer.
This was much more satisfying that The Wychford Murder Case. Berkeley has written a clever and pointedly funny story. Sheringham is his usual pompous know-it-all, with a refreshing twist. Believing himself to be a flawless detective, and consumed by his rivalry with Moresby, Roger can’t see the obvious solution. Utterly unconscious to his own fallibility, he is extremely amusing as he conceives, several times, what he believes to be, the only solution.
‘I’ve done it!” shouted the dervish.’ ‘Alone, unaided, unhonoured and unsung, frowned upon by the official police and snubbed by half the small boys in Ludmouth, have I done it!’”
While there is little if any mystery regarding the who, how, or why, the red herrings the killer uses to divert attention are very good, leading Sheringham on a merry dance. And his final theory is masterful…but completely wrong. Sheringham as the the flawed amateur sleuth proves to be incredibly entertaining.
This is one that doesn’t take itself too seriously but was a very pleasurable read.
My Judgment – 4/5
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