Inspector French's Greatest Case
Inspector French is the central figure in many books by Mr. Crofts. This, his greatest case, opens with the discovery beside the open safe of a diamond merchant in Hatton Garden of the dead body of his head clerk, and valuable diamonds are missing. There are many people to suspect, and before Inspector French solves it, he has to unravel many mysteries and follow up many false clues.
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Back in the 1920s, Agatha Christie and Crofts were rivals on the best-seller lists. Legend has it that Christie based her character Hercule Poirot on the thinking device hero Inspector French of Crofts’ series hero. In this mystery, the first of the series, French takes on a baffling crime involving the theft of diamonds and cash and the inevitable killing. On the minus side, too much time is spent in the details of travel and the cracking of a tedious code. On the plus side, the story is told with challenging enough vocabulary and control over grammar to persuade the thinking reader she isn’t wasting her time. One also gets the feeling that a human being has been murdered, a cold fact that too often the golden-era mysteries gloss over. “Just another body in the library, Jeevesy Old Boy, get it out before the vicar comes to tea, that’s a good man.”