When Bernard Pommery’s body is found hanging in Dillow Woods it must be suicide. All of the evidence says he drove himself to the woods, parked, found a tree, climbed up, put a rope around his neck and hanged himself. But, the local police can’t find any reason why he should have done it. As the police investigation continues to turn up no new evidence, questions are being raised as to their abilities. So they turn it over to Scotland Yard and Chief Inspector Edward Beale.
After reading JJ’s post from April with his ranking Rupert Penny’s Edward Beale novels, I determined that I had to find one. At #4 on the list I figured that Policeman’s Holiday was a good place to start, and it did not disappoint.
The plot for this story is all about how Beale, based solely on his interactions with the other characters, uncovers a number of smaller puzzles which lead him to the solution of the main puzzle. Was it suicide or murder, and if the later, who is the guilty party. The story is introduced and background to Pommery’s death is provided from the point of view of Tony Purdon, financial journalist, Beale’s friend and sometime Watson. I now think Tony is my favorite second banana every. While Beale is very good with intelligent repartee, Tony is funny, with his dry snarky comments, mutterings under his breath, and wonderfully colorful interpretation of a rich cast characters.
“To begin with, Nadia Pommery looked and spoke and behaved like a barmaid—a high-class one, expensively gowned and carefully turned out, but still a barmaid…a magnificent figure of a woman as they say, both fore and aft. Her looks, however, were spoilt by her eyes, which were altogether to hard and calculating in expression—the eyes of a not s-so high-class barmaid.”
Not one individual seems to have had any love for the victim, and so there is an abundance of suspects. (Mrs.) Nadia Pommery, the widow who is “by no means brokenhearted” by Pommery’s death. Cecily Pommery, the victim’s daughter, felt no affection for her father and resented his hypocrisy. John Gale, Cecily’s fiancé, who Pommery “didn’t take to…as a prospective son-in-law.” Neighbors Paul and Shelagh Malim, and Paul’s half-brother Vincent Galloway were not on friendly terms with the victim since he had “spent the last few months making determined passes at Shelagh Malim.” Sir Quinten Greene, impoverished aristocrat, he was seemingly the last person to see the victim. And Captain Hugo Collier, who found the body. A “good-natured fool”, and very attached to Mrs. Pommery.
The only issue I had is rather a strange one. Oddly, I found myself rechecking the year that Holiday was originally published a couple of times. The narrative felt too modern at times, well 1950 – 1960 modern. The modern aspect was strongest regarding insinuations about Pommery’s shady past and his present dalliances. I also felt it with Penny’s characterizations of his female characters, Cecily especially, as she shows “an unnecessary amount of stocking” and bandies words and innuendo with Beale.
I still highly recommend this and I’ll be on the hunt for more. Just please no more acrostics! I can barely do a simple crossword!
My Judgment – 4/5
Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2020 – Fulfills # 10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them. (Knox) There shall be no final pinning of the crime on a twin, or a relative who looks exactly like the suspected, but innocent person. (Van Dine #20) Any book where twins or doubles figure. Impersonation of any sort. Mistaken identity.
Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge – Weapon: Rope, Red Herrings: Non-barking dog
Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge – May #3: Primary action takes place in this month