My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Author George Bellairs does something that many books on the craft of writing would frown at, and that is to go into even minor character's heads for a brief time. I find it delightful, because this tactic gives a rounded out picture of a character who might otherwise have been a name on the page. The waitress. The postman. Instead, Bellairs makes sure the reader has been properly introduced and even gives a peek at what happens after these characters leave the page. This technique gives the feeling that you are actually part of the location in which the story takes place.
And the location often changes for Superintendent Litttlejohn of Scotland yard. In many book, he can be found on the Isle of White, a charming place. In this book, he is in Surrey investigating an explosion that destroys the offices of the Excelsior Joinery Company and kills three of its director.
As there are only five directors total, it may seem that the suspect pool is limited, but that would be forgetting the bankers, lawyers, and family members on the periphery.
The Littlejohn books are methodical without being impersonal, and since this book was written in 1964, forensics wasn't as developed as it currently is, so there is more guesswork involved.
I enjoy the main character and his sergeant, Cromwell, who efficiently interview suspects, gather evidence, and work toward a solution. The humor is dry British, which I also enjoy. If you like your mysteries full of fast-paced action and quips, this isn't the book for you, but if you enjoy old-fashioned mysteries, Bellairs fits right in with that pack of authors.
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