It Pays To Die (1953) by Cecil M Wills

Major Brentwood was well known in the town of Pendrannock, Cornwall, so when he was found dead on the beach, it caused no end of alarm. The finger of suspicion began to creep towards his wife, as Brentwood was found holding her handbag, a handbag that contained a letter to her from a mysterious someone called “Alan”.

When Chief Inspector Roger Ellerdine and his trusty sidekick Detective Sergeant Blossom arrive, it would seem that Mrs Braddock is the key to everything. Especially when they dig a little deeper and discover the truth about her first husband – and the fact that he too was found dead on a beach only a few years previously…

For those of you who have come in late, Cecil M Wills is another attempt by me to find the new Brian Flynn, an author who I can champion and hopefully find a way to bring his work to the masses. He wrote about twenty-six mystery novels from 1934 to 1961. The desire to champion him came from Midsummer Murder, the first book of his that I read, which I think is a really strong mystery. After purchasing a few others – basically, all I could find for an affordable price – well, it’s safe to say that the jury is most definitely out.

Ellerdine and Blossom – sorry, Roger and Blossom – are a fairly bland pair of sleuths. The only interesting thing about them is that Ellerdine is always referred to by his forename and Blossom doesn’t seem to have one. He does have (although not in this book) the nickname “Cherry” so at least I’ve discovered a sidekick with a more embarrassing nickname than old Inspector Foxy Foxkin Fox…

The mystery is split almost into two halves by the possible motives. On the one hand, there’s the mysterious Mrs Braddock and her dying husbands. This is by far the most interesting half of the book, even if you can swallow Roger and Blossom heading off to Darwin, Australia, to find a suspect, someone who has at least once popped over to Cornwall from, and I’ll repeat it, Australia. In 1953! As this strand doesn’t have enough suspects, it means that the book needs the other half of the plot.

The other half of the plot is incredibly dull and just made my brain glaze over. Something to do with fraud in the town council accounts. I think. It was very tedious and I just switched off. It might have developed into some other financial shenanigans, to be honest, but I just couldn’t care less about this section.

Overall, this starts well, but doesn’t maintain the interest. A shame. I’ve still got a few Wills books to try, so maybe next time…

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