The Ha-Ha Case by J J Connington

Jim Brandon has come to the Edgehill estate to see his younger brother Johnnie. He fears that his brother is being exploited by Laxford, his tutor, and has come to talk sense into him on the eve of Johnnie’s eighteenth birthday. But events are about to conspire against him…

As everyone takes their shotguns with them, you can pretty much guess that there’s going to be a shooting “accident” and yes, soon there’s a body at the bottom of the ha-ha. (By the way, a ha-ha is a ditch-wall feature – look it up on Wikipedia). Enter Inspector Hinton, a policeman who is smarter than the average man, but only just. Can he get to the bottom of a complex plot of legal documents and shotgun mechanics or will even he need some help?

After reading Curtis Evans’ Masters Of The Humdrum Mystery, I thought I’d go back and take a look at the three authors involved – Street (as if I wouldn’t be revisiting him again very soon), Crofts and in this case, Connington. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read from him. Based entirely on the fact that the ebook of this one was a quid cheaper than the rest, I thought I’d give the Ha-Ha Case a try.

Unfortunately, it’s been a bit of a hectic time for me, away from the blog that is, so I’ve only been able to read this one in small chunks. And also unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the plot is a bit fiddly to keep track of who’s doing what to who. And I may have missed it, but does the reader need to know the ins and out of a shotgun to work out what happened.

It starts very strongly, with one of the more engrossing opening sections that I’ve read for a while, with an intriguing set-up. I’m a little undecided over the investigation strand, in part due to Inspector Hinton. It takes a little while for him to show up and the notion that he’s smart but not quite smart enough to sort things out is interesting, but it just means that when Chief Constable Driffield finally shows up and basically spots the solution immediately, I found it sort of as if the preceding section was a bit of a waste of time. I wonder if the story would have been more interesting if Driffield hadn’t shown up.

So, a decent read, and I wish I’d been in a better state of mind to concentrate on the fiddlier aspects (although it’s all explained clearly enough at the end). Another example of why Connington shouldn’t be overlooked, as this book certainly isn’t Humdrum. Well Worth A Look.

6 comments

  1. To date I’ve only read The Case with Nine Solutions from Connington, and if it doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the title it contains a few very clever ideas and some excellent detection (at least, I seem to remember that it does…it’s been a few years). He’s yet another author I’ve merely brushed against and need to retun to more fully, but I seem to be saying that about virtually everyone these days. Good to have this in the memory banks for when I do eventually get round to him, though, so thanks foer the review.

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    • I liked Nine Solutions apart from the fact that the Nine came from a mathematical idea rather than there actually being Nine reasonable solutions. Although I have seen a book try and get away with the accident-accident solution… it was crap, btw

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  2. I would have thought only a ‘Highly Recommended’ – or, by the least, ‘Recommended’ – rating would be sufficient to elevate Connington from the dross of ‘humdrum’… 🙂

    I’ve only read two Connington novels, and the second one, ‘Eye in the Museum’, struck me to evolve into a thriller towards the end. ‘Tragedy at Ravensthorpe’ was good, but with only one or two things that made it at times great. I’m still hoping to hit on a Connington novel that would blow things out of the water…

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