My Book Notes: Inspector French and the Sea Mystery, 1928 (Inspector French # 4) by Freeman Wills Crofts

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Collins Crime Club, 2017. Format: Kindle  Edition. File Size: 809 KB. Print Length: 220 pages. ASIN: B01IMNJAGG. eISBN: 978-0-00-819068-2. First published in Great Britain by Wm Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1928 as The Sea Mystery and in the US by Harper & Brothers the same year under the same title.

9780008190675Book description: Off the coast of Burry Port in south Wales, two fishermen discover a shipping crate and manage to haul it ashore. Inside is the decomposing body of a brutally murdered man. With nothing to indicate who he is or where it came from, the local police decide to call in Scotland Yard. Fortunately Inspector Joseph French does not believe in insoluble cases – there are always clues to be found if you know what to look for. Testing his theories with his accustomed thoroughness, French’s ingenuity sets him off on another investigation . . .

My Take: It would seem that there are several of us interested in knowing more in-depth the work of Freeman Wills Crofts and, on this occasion, my turn has come to read The Sea Mystery, the fourth novel in the series, originally published in 1928 and republished in 2017 by Harper Collins as Inspector French and the Sea Mystery.

The Sea Mystery revolves around the discovery of a body in a wooden crate that has been literally fished in a Wales estuary. As the corpse was found in the sea, the local police regards this a case for Scotland Yard and Inspector French will take charge of the investigation. The case is not short of difficulties. To begin with, the body had been in the sea for some time, the face was completely disfigured as if to prevent its identification, the corpse was only wearing underclothes, and its labels were cut. Besides, there is no way to know how the crate could have get there. But Inspector French is not someone who backs down in the face of hardship and, methodically, starts working. As Mike Grost aptly says ‘The best parts of The Sea Mystery (1928) are the opening chapters, which show the discovery of the body, and Inspector French’s reconstruction of part of the crime.’ And he goes on stating ‘They are also the only parts of the book concerned with pure detection. French uses logic, reasoning and science and engineering skills to reconstruct a very mysterious looking crime; these sections are a gem of pure detection.’

I must admit I have really enjoyed reading this book. Perhaps is not as good as its beginning might presage. Its denouement has seemed to me somewhat far-fetched and I was able to identify the culprit relatively soon, although I couldn’t glimpse exactly what happened. Even so, allow me to say nothing more not to spoil your amusement and entertainment, if you haven’t read it. In any case, a delightful and exiting reading.

My rating: A (I loved it)

Inspector French and the Sea Mystery has been reviewed, among others, at In Search of the Mystery Novel, Bedford Bookshelf, The Invisible Event, The Grandest Game in the World, Mysteries Ahoy!, Golden Age of Detection Wiki, The Green Capsule, and Vintage Pop Fictions.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Collins Detective Novel (UK), 1928)

About the Author: Freeman Wills Crofts (1879 – 1957) was born in Dublin. His father (a British army doctor) died while he was still a child, and his mother subsequently remarried. He was educated at the Methodist and Campbell Colleges in Belfast. In 1896 he was apprenticed to his uncle, chief engineer on the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway. In 1899, he became junior assistant engineer on the Londonderry and Strabane Railway. In the following year he was promoted to district engineer. In 1912, he married Mary Bellas Canning. In 1923 he went back to work for the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway. By this time, he was already a published author. In 1925 the first ‘Inspector Joseph French’ novel was published. This hero appeared in another 29 novels. The success of his novels enabled him to give up his job and become a full-time writer. He and his wife moved from Northern Ireland to Blackheath, Surrey. In the early Fifties, Crofts became seriously ill but continued to work on what turned out to be his final novel. (Source: embden11)

Crofts is one of three writers explored in depth in Curtis Evans’ book Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery (2012).

Inspector French series: Inspector French’s Greatest Case (1924); Inspector French and the Cheyne Mystery (1926); The Starvel Hollow Tragedy (1927); The Sea Mystery (1928); The Box Office Murders (1929); Sir John Magill’s Last Journey (1930); Mystery in the Channel (1931); Sudden Death (1932); Death on the Way (1932); The Hog’s Back Mystery (1933); The 12:30 from Croydon (1934); Mystery on Southampton Water (1934); Crime at Guildford (1935); The Loss of the ‘Jane Vosper’ (1936); Man Overboard (1936); Found Floating (1937); Antidote to Venom (1938); The End of Andrew Harrison (1938); Fatal Venture (1939); Golden Ashes (1940); James Tarrant, Adventurer (1941); A Losing Game (1941); Fear Comes to Chalfont (1942); The Affair at Little Wokeham (1943); Enemy Unseen (1945); Death of a Train (1946); Silence for the Murderer (1949); Dark Journey (1951); Many a Slip (1955); and Anything to Declare? (1957).

HarperCollinsPublishers  UK publicity page

HarperCollinsPublishers US publicity page

Freeman Wills Crofts at Mysteries Ahoy!

Freeman Wills Crofts at A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection

Freeman Wills Crofts at Wikipedia

Freeman Wills Crofts at Golden Age of Detection Wiki 

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


El inspector French y el misterio del mar, de Freeman Wills Crofts

Descripción del libro: Frente a la costa de Burry Port, en el sur de Gales, dos pescadores descubren una caja de transporte y logran llevarla a tierra. Dentro está el cuerpo en descomposición de un hombre brutalmente asesinado. Sin nada que indique quién es o de dónde vino, la policía local decide llamar a Scotland Yard. Afortunadamente, el inspector Joseph French no cree en casos insolubles; siempre hay pistas que encontrar si se sabe qué buscar. Poniendo a prueba sus teorías con su habitual minuciosidad, el ingenio de French lo conduce a otra investigación. . .

Mi opinión: Parece que somos varios los interesados ​​en conocer más a fondo la obra de Freeman Wills Crofts y, en esta ocasión, me ha llegado el turno de leer The Sea Mystery, la cuarta novela de la serie, publicada originalmente en 1928 y reeditada en el 2017 por Harper Collins como Inspector French and the Sea Mystery.

The Sea Mystery gira en torno al descubrimiento de un cuerpo en una caja de madera que ha sido literalmente pescado en un estuario de Gales. Como el cadáver fue encontrado en el mar, la policía local considera que este es un caso para Scotland Yard y el inspector French se hará cargo de la investigación. El caso no está exento de dificultades. Para empezar, el cuerpo llevaba un tiempo en el mar, el rostro estaba completamente desfigurado como para impedir su identificación, el cadáver solo vestía ropa interior y sus etiquetas estaban cortadas. Además, no hay forma de saber cómo pudo haber llegado allí la caja. Pero el inspector French no es alguien que retrocede ante las dificultades y, metódicamente, comienza a trabajar. Como dice acertadamente Mike Grost: “Las mejores partes de The Sea Mystery (1928) son los capítulos iniciales, que muestran el descubrimiento del cuerpo y la reconstrucción del inspector French de parte del crimen“. Y continúa diciendo: “También son las únicas partes del libro relacionadas con la detección pura. French utiliza la lógica, el razonamiento y las habilidades científicas y de ingeniería para reconstruir un crimen de aspecto muy misterioso; estas secciones son una joya de pura detección.”

Debo admitir que he disfrutado mucho leyendo este libro. Quizás no sea tan bueno como podría presagiar su comienzo. Su desenlace me ha parecido algo inverosímil y pude identificar al culpable relativamente pronto, aunque no pude vislumbrar exactamente lo que sucedió. Aun así, permítanme no decir nada más para no estropear su diversión y entretenimiento, si no lo han leído. En cualquier caso, una lectura deliciosa y emocionante.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre del autor: Freeman Wills Crofts (1879 – 1957) nació en Dublín. Su padre (un médico del ejército británico) murió cuando aún era niño, y su madre se volvió a casar posteriormente. Fue educado en el Methodist y Campbell Colleges en Belfast. En 1896 fue aprendiz de su tío, ingeniero jefe en la Compañia de Ferrocarriles Belfast y Northern Counties. En 1899, se convirtió en ingeniero asistente junior en la Compañía de Ferrocarriles  Londonderry y Strabane. Al año siguiente fue ascendido a ingeniero de distrito. En 1912 se casó con Mary Bellas Canning. En 1923 volvió a trabajar para la Compañía de Ferrocarriles Belfast y Northern Counties. En ese momento, ya era un autor publicado. En 1925 se publicó la primera novela del “Inspector Joseph French”. Este héroe apareció en otras 29 novelas. El éxito de sus novelas le permitió dejar su trabajo y convertirse en escritor a tiempo completo. Él y su esposa se mudaron de Irlanda del Norte a Blackheath, en Surrey. A principios de los años cincuenta, Crofts enfermó gravemente, pero continuó trabajando en lo que resultó ser su última novela. (Fuente: embden11)

Crofts es uno de los tres escritores analizados a fondo en el libro de Curtis Evans Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery (2012).

6 thoughts on “My Book Notes: Inspector French and the Sea Mystery, 1928 (Inspector French # 4) by Freeman Wills Crofts”

  1. Thanks for the link José! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. As we all know, Inspector French is not everyone’s cup of tea, so it’s great to see when others understand the joy.

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