The Nymph, a small yacht, lies bobbing about in the English Channel when the Chichester comes across it. When what seems to be a body is spotted on the deck, the yacht is boarded and a second body is discovered below deck. Both of the victims have been shot but there is no sign of the gun. But why would someone kill people in such a location? And where did the killer go?
Soon it is discovered that both the victims were partners in a major financial company, a company whose coffers are now empty, leading to a potential financial crisis. Inspector French is on the case, on the hunt for the third missing partner who was also expected to be on the yacht. But a surprising discovery leads to French discovering that there is far more to the case than he ever expected.
I can review this pretty quickly – a good thing as there are seven more holiday reads to go. Basically if you liked The Sea Mystery (which you really should read, by the way) then you’ll like this one. Because structurally, at least, these are very similar tales. In here review of The 12:30 From Croydon, Sayers praised Crofts attempt to break away from his formula. Well, here is his formula in full effect and he’s very good at it.
Basically, once the crime set-up is over – and there’s a nice touch with one of the ship’s crew providing the point of view, almost so that you hope he’s going to be the sleuth – French takes over and we follow the investigation from suspect to suspect. It sounds like it’s going to be a little on the dull side – I’ll be honest, that was my assumption before trying Crofts – but his style of writing pulls the reader along and there are some interesting twists along the way, with a strong finale. The harsh critic will point out that the crucial clue is left verrrry late in the day, but it’s not really that sort of mystery.
Anyway, this is another strong book from Crofts. I’m looking forward to taking a look at some of his titles where he moves away from the formula, but in the meantime, this is Highly Recommended.
For more on Crofts, do check out Masters Of The Humdrum Mystery by Curtis Evans.