Murder At Derivale (1958) by John Rhode

When Albert Kinder collected his lorry one morning, he wasn’t expecting to find a surprise additional load in the back – yes, you’ve guessed it, a dead body, namely one Walter Hanslope. Hanslope had apparently climbed into the back of the lorry and then dropped dead from poison.

Hanslope led a quiet life in the village of Derivale, an affluent man who lived a comfortable life. But when Superintendent Jimmy Waghorn investigates further, the source of Hanslope’s income seems unclear, as do the actions of Hanslope’s staff. But can Waghorn, with the help of Dr Priestley, find the murderer?

So we come to last of my little trilogy of John Rhode reviews, moving forward to the end of his body of work, the sixty-sixth out of seventy-two Priestley mysteries. There’s a general feeling that Rhode’s work tailed off towards the end of his career – ladies and gentlemen, I present exhibit A.

It’s hard to find much to praise about this one. The set-up felt a little like Death Of An Author and while that one goes off on something of a tangent, it is at least a reasonably entertaining tangent. This one just plods. And plods. And plods…

Basically, Waghorn works his way through the case and finds the killer. That is all.

Oh, and what I consider to be the most important rule in Knox’s Decalogue is ignored. Which makes the mystery element feel… well, like not really a mystery.

I have every hope that one day, the entire John Rhode back catalogue will be reprinted, but let’s hope that someone trying Rhode for the first time doesn’t start with this one…

Availability: What? You still want a copy after this review? Really?

Just The Facts, Ma’am: WHO – Professional is the main sleuth

2 comments

  1. I liked this a little better than you did (it’s not his worst from this period, lol), but there’s nothing to get excited about that’s for sure. This is what happens late in your career when you write that many books, lol. But there are some much better ones, Streets and Burtons (mostly Burtons), that are written right around the same time, which I mention in Masters. He still had ideas, just not enough for for four books a year, which he still was inexplicably writing.

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    • I deliberately picked one that you didn’t mention in Masters – too many of my unread Rhode books are from the back end of his output, and I’m saving some of the recommendations, along with a few early ones, til later. But yes, some of the later ones are better than this – I enjoyed the two late Burton titles, Death Paints A Picture and Legacy Of Death quite a bit.

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