My Book Notes: Inspector French’s Greatest Case, 1924 (Inspector French #1) by Freeman Wills Crofts


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HarperCollinsPublishers, 2016. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 917 KB. Print Length: 306 pages. ASIN: B01GNSR27G. eISBN: 9780008190590. First published in Great Britain by Wm Collins Sons & C0. Ltd, 1924.

x298Book Description: At the offices of the Hatton Garden diamond merchant Duke and Peabody, the body of old Mr Gething is discovered beside a now-empty safe. With multiple suspects, the robbery and murder is clearly the work of a master criminal, and requires a master detective to solve it. Meticulous as ever, Inspector Joseph French of Scotland Yard embarks on an investigation that takes him from the streets of London to Holland, France and Spain, and finally to a ship bound for South America . . .

My Take: Inspector French’s Greatest Case is Freeman Wills Crofts fifth book, and this is the one in which Croft’s most famous detective makes his first public appearance. As from this novel Inspector French from Scotland Yard will feature again in all Croft’s mystery books published between 1924 and 1957. Initially the story seems to be relatively straightforward, but as the plot progress it becomes increasingly complicated. The novel revolves around a robbery with murder. The victim, old Mr Gething, turns out to be the head clerk of Duke and Peabody, a diamond merchant located at Hatton Garden in London who has been found dead next to the firm’s safe whose content has been burgled. The total loss amount some thirty-three thousand pounds among diamonds and some cash, and soon follows it has been an inside job. Inspector French shows up right away to take charge of the investigation and will have to travel to several European countries following false clues that will lead him nowhere. However, his perseverance and dedication will end up yielding the expected results.

I’ve found the plot quite entertaining and I’ve quite enjoyed it. However, despite the amount of false clues with which Inspector French has to deal with, the story isn’t overly complicated in my view. It has also quite a number of aspects that didn’t appear to me realistic, though I can accept them as credible, given the context and time in which the plot unfolds. In any case, any reader can easily figure out the solution to the mystery, once discarded the main suspect. Nonetheless, I found the story quite ingenious and clearly reflects Croft’s fondness for the railways and travels. The reader will feel himself transported to another era in which things were working differently. It might not be the best book in the series, and any interested reader won’t be wrong in following Curt Evans advice in Masters of the Humdrum Mystery: ‘Here I will look in greater depth at the eight French novels from this period that I think best illustrate the finer qualities in his detective fiction: Inspector French and The Starvel Hollow Tragedy (1927); Inspector French and  The Sea Mystery (1928); Inspector French and Sir John Magill’s Last Journey (1930); Mystery in the Channel a.k.a. Mystery in the English Channel (1931), The Hog’s Back Mystery a.k.a. The Strange Case of Dr. Earle (1933); Mystery on Southampton Water (1934); Crime at Guildford a.k.a. The Crime at Nornes (1935); and The Loss of the “Jane Vosper” (1936)’. 

My rating: B (I liked it)

About the Author: Freeman Wills Crofts (1879 – 1957), the son of a doctor in the British army, who died before he was born, was raised in Northern Ireland and became a civil engineer on the railways. His first book, The Cask, written in 1919 during a long illness, was published in the summer of 1920, immediately establishing him as a new master of detective fiction. Regularly outselling Agatha Christie, it was with his fifth book that Crofts introduced his iconic Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Joseph French, who would feature in no less than thirty books over the next three decades. He was a founder member of the Detection Club and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1939. Continually praised for his ingenious plotting an meticulous attention to detail –including the intricacies of railway timetables– Crofts was once dubbed ‘The King of Detective Story Writers’ and described by Raymond Chandler as ‘the soundest builder of them all’. (Source: HarperCollins).

Inspector French’s Greatest Case has been reviewed, among others, at The Invisible Event, Vintage Pop Fictions, gadetection, Classic Mysteries, and ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’.

HarperCollins UK publicity page

HarperCollins US publicity page

audible

A Fondness for French Film: An Interview with Writer Brendan Foley about “Inspector French”–the New Freeman Wills Crofts Television Detective Series

Freeman Wills Crofts at The Grandest Game in the World

Gadetection

Freeman Wills Crofts – by Michael E. Grost

El mayor caso del inspector French, de Freeman Wills Crofts

Descripción del libro: En las oficinas del comerciante de diamantes de Hatton Garden, Duke and Peabody, se descubre el cuerpo del anciano Sr. Gething junto a una caja fuerte ahora vacía. Con múltiples sospechosos, el robo y el asesinato son claramente el trabajo de un experto criminal, y requieren de un experto detective para resolverlos. Meticuloso como siempre, el inspector Joseph French de Scotland Yard se embarca en una investigación que lo lleva desde las calles de Londres a Holanda, Francia y España, y finalmente a un barco con destino a Sudamérica. . .

Mi opinión: El caso más importante del inspector French es el quinto libro de Freeman Wills Crofts, y es en éste en el que el detective más famoso de Croft hace su primera aparición pública. A partir de esta novela, el inspector French de Scotland Yard aparecerá nuevamente en todos los libros de misterio de Croft publicados entre 1924 y 1957. Inicialmente, la historia parece ser relativamente sencilla, pero a medida que avanza la trama se vuelve cada vez más complicada. La novela gira en torno a un robo con asesinato. La víctima, el anciano señor Gething, resulta ser el principal empleado de Duke and Peabody, un comerciante de diamantes ubicado en Hatton Garden en Londres que ha sido encontrado muerto junto a la caja fuerte de la empresa cuyo contenido ha sido robado. La pérdida total asciende a unas treinta y tres mil libras entre diamantes y algo de efectivo, y pronto se deduce que ha sido un trabajo interno. El inspector French se presenta de inmediato para hacerse cargo de la investigación y tendrá que viajar a varios países europeos siguiendo pistas falsas que no lo llevarán a ninguna parte. Sin embargo, su perseverancia y dedicación terminarán produciendo los resultados esperados.

He encontrado que la trama es bastante entretenida y la he disfrutado bastante. Sin embargo, a pesar de la cantidad de pistas falsas con las que tiene que lidiar el inspector French, la historia no es demasiado complicada en mi opinión. También tiene una serie de aspectos que no me parecieron realistas, aunque puedo aceptarlos como creíbles, dado el contexto y el tiempo en que se desarrolla la trama. En cualquier caso, cualquier lector puede encontrar fácilmente la solución al misterio, una vez descartado el principal sospechoso. No obstante, la historia me pareció bastante ingeniosa y refleja claramente la afición de Croft por los ferrocarriles y los viajes. El lector se sentirá transportado a otra era en la que las cosas funcionaban de manera diferente. Puede que no sea el mejor libro de la serie, y cualquier lector interesado no se equivocará al seguir el consejo de Curt Evans en Masters of the Humdrum Mystery: “Aquí analizaré con mayor profundidad las ocho novelas de French en este período que considero mejor ilustran las principales cualidades de sus novelas policiacas: Inspector French and The Starvel Hollow Tragedy (1927); Inspector French and  The Sea Mystery (1928); Inspector French and Sir John Magill’s Last Journey (1930); Mystery in the Channel a.k.a. Mystery in the English Channel (1931), The Hog’s Back Mystery a.k.a. The Strange Case of Dr. Earle (1933); Mystery on Southampton Water (1934); Crime at Guildford a.k.a. The Crime at Nornes (1935); and The Loss of the “Jane Vosper” (1936)”.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó)

Sobre el autor: Freeman Wills Crofts (1879 – 1957), hijo de un médico del ejército británico, que murió antes de que él naciera, se crió en Irlanda del Norte y se convirtió en ingeniero civil de ferrocarriles. Su primer libro, The Cask, escrito en 1919 durante una larga enfermedad, fue publicado en el verano de 1920, colocándole directamente como nuevo maestro de la ficción policial. Superando regularmente a Agatha Christie, fue con su quinto libro que Crofts dio a conocer a su emblemático detective de Scotland Yard, el inspector Joseph French, que aparecerá en no menos de treinta libros en las próximas tres décadas. Fue miembro fundador del Detection Club y fue elegido miembro de la Royal Society of Arts en 1939. Continuamente elogiado por sus ingeniosos argumentos y su atención meticulosa al detalle, incluidas las complejidades de los horarios de los ferrocarriles, Crofts fue apodado  “El Rey de los escritores de las novelas policiacas” y calificado por Raymond Chandler como “el más solvente constructor de todos”. (Fuente: HarperCollins).

8 thoughts on “My Book Notes: Inspector French’s Greatest Case, 1924 (Inspector French #1) by Freeman Wills Crofts”

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