Freeman Wills Crofts double bill

Many thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for granting me access to the advance review copies of these two books in exchange for honest reviews.

It's time for some more British Library Crime Classics! This time, I have been reading two 1930s classics by Freeman Wills Crofts, a contemporary of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers.

The 12.30 from Croydon

This detective novel is a little different from the norm. Firstly, we see very little of the police or the investigator. Instead, it follows the murderer, Charles Swinburn, throughout as he realises he has a major problem financially, through his efforts to raise the capital he needs, to the planning and carrying out of the murder of his uncle. The story continues as he tries to live his life knowing what he has done and trying to get away with the deed. But, of course, there is one very wiley inspector, Inspector French, who keeps appearing...

I guess the basics of the story, the early murder and some of the remorse, reminded me quite a bit of Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. However the madness that came in the protagonist of that masterpiece didn't appear in Swinburn too much.

I liked the close following of procedures, especially late in the book. The tension is there and I think it would stand up today as well as it did in its day. I also really felt for Swinburn, and hoped he would get away with the murder. It was also refreshing to follow the criminal and not the detective trying to catch him.

Star rating: 4 from 5
This book will be published 7th February 2017

Mystery in the Channel

After two bodies are found shot on board a boat in the middle of the English Channel, murder is suspected. And when the bodies are identified as two senior partners of a major financial institution, the case is handed over to the Met, particularly into the hands of Inspector French. However the case is less easy then it seems as two of the suspects have disappeared and an international police collaboration is required, leading French to France and back.

I really enjoyed this deviously difficult detective story. It was full of twists and turns, action and danger, and a hell of a lot of mystery. Admittedly, I had my suspicions as to the murderer, but even still I was kept guessing until near the end. It was more full of red herrings than a fisherman's net!

The plot was great, as I have sort of mentioned. I found French to be a wonderful detective. Maybe not in the same class as Sherlock or Poirot, but still of excellent qualities and character. As for the writing, it flowed easily from one plot twist to the next. Highly recommended!

Star rating: 5 from 5
This book will be published 3rd January 2017


  1. Matthew, these look like great books. Which one would you recommend for someone new to British Crime Classics?

    1. They're both excellent, but I would recommend Mystery In The Channel from these two. Also, look out for John Bude. There are a lot of his books in this brilliant collection.

  2. Thanks for these reviews. I can't wait to get my hands on Mystery In the Channel.

    1. You're welcome. It was a great read, so I hope you enjoy it!


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