on 17 November 2011
Roger Bax was better known as Andrew Garve. This book is typical of him at his best, a meticulous account of a crime, an unexpected snag, and a desperate attempt to get away with it. Sometimes Bax/Garve supplies only disagreeable characters, but here, as well as the appalling Arthur Cross, we have a hero and heroine who are a bit too trusting but otherwise delightful, and a tense finale that makes full use of the author's expertise in small-boat sailing, with echoes of Ransome's We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea.
If you are wondering who Roger Bax was, it was one of the pseudonyms used by Paul Winterton. Winterton was quite popular on both sides of the Atlantic, and was also a founder member of the Crime Writers' Association. I feel I should point out that although it says 'An Inspector James Mystery' on the cover, Inspector James is not in the story that much, also that you are made aware of the killer from the start.
It is the end of the Second World War, and Charles Hollison is glad to see his son, Geoffrey, back in one piece, as well as his nephew, Arthur Cross. Cross likes to live the high life, but doesn't have the money, so when he finds that he is in the will of Charles Hollinson, he creates a blueprint for the ideal murder. With the perfect alibi, there is no way the police can stick the crime on him, although Inspector James believes he did it. But is a crime ever perfect? Cross is about to find out that not every eventuality can be taken into account.
With Cross getting car-jacked, murder, blackmail, and a daring escape and car chase with the police Cross hopes by taking hostages to leave the country, but will he be able to pull it off? Full of action and thrills and spills this is a story that will keep you engrossed. Although this isn't Winterton's very best novel, it is still very well worth reading if you love a good old fashioned crime thriller.