Thursday, November 21, 2013

"The Detective Story Boiled Down to Its Essential Parts"

By Freeman Wills Crofts.
Hodder & Stoughton.
1955. 188 pages. Used copies: Pricey.
Short story collection.
No e-book available.

Martin Edwards reminds us of a largely overlooked book by Freeman Wills Crofts:
Crofts was one of the giants of detective fiction's Golden Age, creator of Inspector French and master of plots hinging upon a seemingly unbreakable alibi. His most famous books were novels, but 'Many a Slip' is a collection of short stories.
For some readers, however, Crofts has been less than endearing:
There is no doubt that Freeman Wills Crofts is often highly ingenious, adept at constructing elaborate murder plots based on the ramifications of train timetables or the speed of motorboats. There is equally little doubt that he is also the dullest writer of detective fiction ever.
His much-vaunted ingenuity is the horrible ingenuity of an algebraic statement which may be satisfying to solve once, but becomes excruciating over forty years and nearly forty books.
His characters are sheer cardboard; his detective, Inspector French, does nothing but plod from place to place, devouring British Railway sandwiches with delight while interrogating witness after witness, a process which saves him having to use his brain; and the books are extremely repetitious and formulaic. There is no life to them—nothing to make the reader want to keep turning the pages except for the puzzle-solving instinct.
They are the detective story boiled down to its essential parts—and as stodgy and unappetising as cold porridge. — GAD Wiki

Category: Detective fiction

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