The Duke of York’s Steps by Henry Wade (1929)

When prominent banker Sir Garth Fratten dies it seems like natural causes, the result of a thoracic aneurysm. But his daughter Inez wants to trace the man who bumped into him just before he collapsed. Scotland Yard has no interest, but Sir Leward Marradine, Assistant Commissioner for C. I. D., seizes on it as his opportunity to become better acquainted with Inez. And so Detective –Inspector John Poole is assigned to look into the matter. What he uncovers is someone with a very strong motive and no alibi. But before he can prove guilt, he must prove there actually was a murder, and if so, how was it done.

One thing Wade does quite well is create an excellent character. Poole is portrayed as young, fairly optimistic, ambitious, and not the typical policeman of his times. Feeling he needs to work harder, and keep the “genteel” side of his life separate, results in an appealing awkwardness in his manner. I was also amused by his knowledge of those men who frequent a theater in the hopes of cozying up to a chorus girl or actress. Actually, that was something of a theme in The Hanging Captain as well. Makes me wonder if Wade may have had some experience as a stage-door Johnny! Now, back to characters—Inez Fratten, the victim’s daughter, is quite an intelligent and capable character in her own right. Inez takes on the role of amateur detective adeptly, following leads which the police overlook, and obtaining results. 

This is also far from the monotonous police procedural one might expect. In this case the usually routine work of the police investigation is actually quite animated and inventive. Scenes such as Poole’s reconstruction of the crime; in which he enlists the help of not only fellow inspectors, but the Chief Inspector who opposed his promotion; are intelligent and highly entertaining.

This is Wade’s the third novel, and the first of six to feature Inspector Poole. Having read this as well as The Hanging Captain, I’m definitely keen to find and read more.

My Ruling – 4/5

Prior Judgments – JJ @ The Invisible EventNick Fuller  @ The Grandest Game in the World

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza –  2011 Vintage Mystery Challenge: Take ‘Em to Trial: Book 3 of 16

Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – June #9: Father or Wedding figures prominent

5 thoughts on “The Duke of York’s Steps by Henry Wade (1929)

  1. Thanks for the reminder to try more by Wade. He is a hard author to track down in when it comes to print copies of his work. I do have one of though in my TBR pile. I will have to try and get to it this month.

  2. I haven’t read this one (yet – it’s on the TBR pile) but I have enjoyed almost all of the Wade novels I have read so far. I can heartily recommend Heir Presumptive in particular!

    1. Having only read two, which I enjoyed very much, I can’t really give an expert opinion. But then I have a soft spot for police procedurals. I’m currently on the hunt for another of his books Heir Presumptive.

  3. Pingback: The Dying Fall by Henry Wade (1955) – Bedford Bookshelf

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