Thames Pagnall and Maplecot, two eternal rival villages – at cricket at least. Back since the early years of the game, the two villages have met every year to take up bat and ball against each other. This year, there is everything to play for in Thames Pagnall, as the matches are level – but one spectator is going to get more than they bargained for.
After the match is over, a spectator in a deck chair is found dead, shot in the back. But how could he have been shot with no one noticing? Why is the victim carrying no ID? The local police are baffled – but enter Doctor/Inspector Manson? Can you spot the killer before he does?
This is another Manson case – the fourth – from the Radfords that have been re-released by Dean Street Press. I’ve already looked at Who Killed Dick Whittington? which I enjoyed a lot.
This one follows a lot of the same beats as the other title – a second crime that at first seems unrelated but ties into the first crime. An emphasis on scientific detection. Challenges to the reader. But this one didn’t quite work as well for me.
The main reason, I think, is the constant challenges to the reader. Ellery Queen fans will be used to a challenge – but usually just the one. There are seven separate challenges here. It reminds me of a book from my youth, The Adventures Of The Black Hand Gang, where each double page had some story, a picture (with a clue hidden in it) and a question for the reader to answer before the page was turned. Ooh, now I want to read that book…
Back to this one. There’s also a lot of scientific detection, as in Dick Whittington, but here… it was perhaps a little too much for me, distracting from the mystery. Fans of R Austin Freeman will see a lot to like here, but the chapters on the bullet’s trajectory (and source) were a little too involved for me. The detail on the methods used at the time are really fascinating, but I had trouble believing in the accuracy of the methods.
But for fans of the pure puzzle, this is definitely worth checking out. While it wasn’t quite my cup of tea, this is still a genuinely interesting book.