There Was A Crooked Man (1960) by Clifford Witting

Old Charley Kedrick lived alone in a wooden shack on the summit of Painswick Hill. One rainy night, Danny Lester, a local ne’er-do-well, is approached by a bowler-hatted individual, asking the way to Charley’s abode. Danny helps the stranger out – but the next day, Charley is found dead, strangled by his scarf.

Enter Detective-Inspector Peter Bradfield to hunt for Crooked Charley’s murderer. But it seems that Charley had a number of visitors that night, some known and some anonymous. Bradfield finds more questions than answers at first – for example, why was Charley’s dilapidated shack furnished to the highest quality? There was, it seems, far more to Crooked Charley than met the eye…

Another of my many holiday reads – nine in total in about four days. It’s amazing how much you can read without distractions like the internet – one of the reasons I like the cottage we tend to go to so much. But the problem with reading so many titles, is that some fade in the memory a bit. Like this one.

What’s odd is that this isn’t a bad book by any means. In fact, I really enjoyed it. I just can’t remember many details. Despite this coming from 1960, it feels like a very traditional Golden Age mystery. Clifford Witting, whose Dead On Time I enjoyed a lot, produces a better mystery here, I think.

Witting is an entertaining writer, and with lots of distinctive characters in the story, it’s a fun read. There is one aspect about the killer that seemed to come out of nowhere, but I suppose it’s fairly guessable. Witting does a good job with motives flying around, and there’s plenty to distract the armchair sleuth.

All in all, an entertaining mystery – just wish I’d made a few notes when reading it…


  1. I read a Perennial Mystery paperback of this one and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve always wanted to read some more Clifford Witting but have yet to come across anything else of his. That’s unfortunate as he was, as you said, a very entertaining writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hope so; I started reading him about 50 years ago when my father recommended him; I have about 7 of his books and when the reprints began a few years ago, my hopes were raised. But nothing so far. Dead on Time is really great. And this one is most enjoyable too.


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