Friday, July 24, 2015

Mystery in the Channel and Death of a Voodoo Doll

I've heard Freeman Wills Crofts is sometimes referred to as the 'railway timetable' mystery writer.  It seems he had good cause to use timetables to solve his mysteries because he worked for the railroad for many years.

This is the first of his mysteries I've read.  Two men are found shot to death on a yacht drifting in the English Channel.  At first, Inspector French believes it was a murder suicide.  Mr. French, however, is not always correct.  He changes his mind after the bodies are identified.

Both were executives of a major business that was about to go belly up, leaving many investors destitute.  Inspector French believes that the men were absconding with a great deal of the company's money, trying to get away before the crash.  Two other executives are missing.

Another employee of the company, the one who identified the bodies, helps French to figure out what happened.

The beginning was interesting, as was the ending.   The middle part of the book was less interesting.  I've gotten lazy in my old age and the intricacies of who was where when seem too much to keep track of.  I know I'll find out who did it in the end.

This is another in the Sir Toby Glendower / Dr. Penny Spring series I recently discovered.  I splurged and bought them all and I've been reading them in order.  So far, I don't think that's necessary.

Penny's friend in Boston, John Everett, is publishing a history of Mardi Gras by the head of a prominent New Orleans Creole family.  Both John and the author have been receiving anonymous threats which have become increasingly more serious.  John asks Toby and Penny to come investigate.

Before they get there, John goes to New Orleans and wakes up in a hotel room with a murdered  woman.  There is an air of voodoo about the murder, a symbol skewered to her breast.  John's arrested for the murder and Toby and Penny must work to clear him.  

There are other murders, there is New Orleans jazz, there is a quick trip to Haiti, references to the Tonton Macoute and Papa Doc Dulavier, a general atmosphere of black magic, and tangled family ties.  I enjoyed the story, but (see above) had trouble keeping all the members of the family and their ancestors straight.  Focus, Joan, focus!


  1. I sometimes have the same problem, especially with books which I'm reading at bedtime, just too tired to concentrate. I do think that Crofts got better as he got older.

    1. I have two more of his on my Kindle, so I'll be reading them at some point. I haven't given up on him yet!