Posts Tagged ‘J J Connington’

The Two Tickets Puzzle (A Clinton Driffield Mystery)

Oswald Preston is found shot dead on a train.  Fortunately Superintendent Ross is in the town when the body is discovered and is on the scene shortly after the gruesome discovery.  It seems he victim has been used for target practice as he has several bullets in him.

A very cursory investigation soon provides plenty of clues and red herrings.  An heiress who is the dead man’s ward, the young Mrs Preston who doesn’t seem to be experiencing too much grief over the death of her husband not to speak of the doctor who may or may not be having an affair with the dead man’s widow.

The murder is very carefully planned and involves some very painstaking work by the police to put together the evidence needed to trap the culprit.  I enjoyed reading about the way all the tickets sold for that particular train were tracked down and the passengers identified.  Even though this isn’t a Clinton Driffield story it is well written and minutely plotted and it will keep the most observant reader guessing.


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Common Sense Is All You Need (Murder Room)

A man is found hanging in his garage and it seems at first as though it could be suicide  – an open and shut case.  Then along comes a criminologist to say that it’s murder and ‘common sense is all you need’.  But they’re both wrong about the murderer and it takes the Chief Constable, Sir Clinton Driffield, to work out what really happened.  Then there is another murder, not to speak of a nasty case of blackmail and the picture suddenly becomes much more complicated.

This is a well written traditional crime story with a marvellous attention to details.  It includes the possibility if buried treasure and some possibly priceless manuscripts not to speak of a lot of people telling lies to protect themselves or others.  I like Sir Clinton Driffield and his amateur criminologist friend – ‘Squire’ Wendover.  The reader never finds out much about their private lives but they come across as interesting characters.

To a twenty first century reader it seems odd to read about a Chief Constable getting his hands dirty with the actual investigation but they were much more hands on at the time.  You have to forget this apparent anomaly – which is easy to do after the first few pages.  This book is number seventeen in the series but the books can be read in any order.

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Jack-in-the-Box (Murder Room)

There seems to be a craze for strange happenings and ‘Squire’ Wendover is dubious about someone he regards as a charlatan who likes to demonstrate his ‘New Force’.  Rabbits have been found dead with not a mark on them.  Then a man is killed apparently in an air raid but he could have been murdered especially as some archaeological treasure has been stolen from him. Other deaths follow and Wendover and Sir Clinton Driffield are puzzled by the way people are dying with not a mark on them.

This is a well written book which really conveys a very good impression of life during World War II for people in the country.  Most attempt to carry on with their normal lives but others seem unduly affected by the constant danger.  Then there are those who are quick to take advantage and feather their own nests.

The end of this story is very tense and shows a sadist at work.  I found it quite as disturbing as anything written in the twenty first century.  It is an object lesson in how much terror a writer can convey without going into graphic details.  This is an excellent book and the whole series is well worth reading if you enjoy classic crime.

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No Past Is Dead (Murder Room)

Ambrose Brenhurst – a particularly obnoxious money lender – is found dead just outside the grounds of Fountain Court, the home of two young women and a cheetah.  Hardly anyone mourns his passing and there are many people who could have been provoked into killing him.  Brenhurst has recently hosted a dinner arranged by the Hemshaw Thirteen Club which defies superstition and it seems as though he has tempted fate once too often.

Sir Clinton Driffield must try and piece together clues from the past and from the scene of the crime itself to reveal the murderer.  There are some interesting insights into revealing fingerprints on cloth and into the identification of blood groups.   It seems as though every single witness and suspect is lying for their own reasons and it is not until a second murder occurs that the police start to see their way through the maze of evidence.

This is a well written book and it has stood the test of time extremely well considering it was written more than seventy years ago.  It is the fifteenth book in the series featuring Sir Clinton Driffield though the books can be read in any order.  If you enjoy classic crime novels then this book and this series are well worth reading.

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The Twenty-One Clues (Murder Room)

It seems like a suicide pact when the bodies of the Rev John Barratt and Mrs Challis were found on a railway embankment but Sir Clinton Driffield has some doubts about the case.  The evidence doesn’t quite match up with what you might expect to find.  It seemed as though they had planned to elope but then their plans had fallen through.

I really enjoyed this well written mystery.  It is fascinating to watch the clues being pieced together in such a painstaking way to produce a very different picture from that presented by the bodies.  I did think I knew who had done it quite early on but there were enough twists before the end to show me that I hadn’t worked out the whole picture.

This book and this series are well worth reading if you enjoy Golden Age crime fiction.  The books in the series can be read in any order.

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Truth Comes Limping (Murder Room)

A murder in a country lane provides a headache for the police not least because at first they can’t work out how he was killed.  He is found beside a very high fence which blocks off a view over the countryside erected by the local landowner out of spite.  Then there’s a poacher rather too conveniently on the spot When two further bodies are discovered the mystery deepens and Sir Clinton Driffield becomes involved.

This is a fascinating mystery with this author’s usual attention to detail with carefully constructed clues and red herrings. ‘Squire’ Wendover’s local knowledge is invaluable to Driffield as he is able to tell him about the bad feeling between the members of the Carfax family.  I thought the exciting denouement was very well written and cleverly done.

This is a very well written mystery and well up to the standard of the rest of the Clinton Driffield series.  If you like classic crime stories then do try this author.  His work deserves to be better known than it is.

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Murder Will Speak (Murder Room)

Oswald Hyson is making hay while the sun shines in the absence of his employer on his sick bed.  His colleagues do not like him because he is a bully and probably dishonest as well as making advances to the typists.  When he is found dead it appears to have been suicide but Sir Clinton Driffield isn’t satisfied.

There are too many people who could have wanted him dead and an assortment of people who are all too keen to provide the police with apparently cast iron alibis. Then there is the recent suicide of Mrs Telford – did it have anything to do with Hyson’s death?

There is also a massive campaign of poison pen letters doing the rounds.  I thought the investigations by the Post Office into the poison pen letters was really fascinating reading as was the way the author of the letters was finally unmasked.

J J Connington’s attention to detail in building up the clues is marvellous and he is probably one of the best of the Golden Age authors in my opinion.  It is a pity he isn’t more widely read today.  Hopefully now his books are available as ebooks he will attract a wider audience.  This book is number twelve in the series though the books can be read in any order.


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