Freeman Wills Crofts (1879-1957) was one of the most successful of the crime writers from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, writing a book almost every year during his writing career. He was a member of the Detection Club, alongside Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers and became a full time writer in 1929. The Cask was his first ever novel, written in 1920 when he found himself off work with a long illness. Although it was written a long time ago (even for a Golden Age novel, it is one of the earliest I have come across), it has aged well. Yes, it is dated in that people use horses and carts far more often than a car and phone calls are still novel enough to be easily traced, but it is the human emotions that matter and this novel deals with the classic themes of jealousy and revenge.
The Cask takes place in both London and Paris. When a cask arrives in London from Paris it causes suspicion. Supposed to hold a statue, gold rolls out when it is opened slightly and there is a glimpse of a hand. What follows is the disappearance of the cask, tracking it down and then trying to decide where it came from and who is to blame for the body inside. Inspector Burnley is the English detective sent in search of the truth, working in Paris alongside Lefarge. Both the detectives are intelligent, hard working and follow up the clues thoroughly. There is also George La Touche, a private detective, who almost loses his life in his attempt to discover what happened. This is very much a puzzle - with clues that are confusing but which can be followed (personally I gave up and simply enjoyed the story, but I am sure you could solve it if you made notes!). It is interesting to read this very early example of the genre and it is easy to see why Crofts is revered by those who enjoy books from this era.