The Hog’s Back Mystery

The Hog’s Back Mystery: A British Library Crime Classic (Inspector French)

By Freeman Wills Crofts

Rating: 4/5 Stairs

HogsBackFirst published in 1933, The Hog’s Back Mystery is a traditional crime story written during Britain’s Golden Age of Crime Fiction. It offers the reader a complex mystery puzzle. In retrospect, Mr. Crofts carefully drops the clues needed to piece the puzzle together throughout the novel. (So much so that when Inspector French sums up the mystery at the end, Mr. Crofts points out the exact page that each clue is mentioned.)

So what, exactly, is the mystery?

“It’s what I call a ‘thin air’ case,” said French. “At 8.40 on a Sunday evening a peaceable elderly gentleman is seated over his drawing-room fire, all settled down comfy for the evening and deep in his Observer. Three minutes later he has gone.”

What has happened to Dr. Earle? Did he vanish on his own accord? Was he kidnapped? Or could it be murder? Scotland Yard’s Inspector French is brought in to solve the case.

The Hog’s Back Mystery is a slow and steady book. It does not begin with Dr. Earle’s disappearance; Mr. Crofts takes time to introduce us to his characters first. When French hits the scene, he is a methodical investigator. Inspector French reminds me a bit of TV’s Lt. Columbo – French leaves no stone unturned, and questions suspects to the minute detail when making his inquires.

The mystery was complex, and I personally was unable to fully solve it, there were so many pieces. I enjoyed following French’s investigation and his line of thought, and his full explanation was welcome in the end. A fun classic whodunit.

“Good Lord!” said Tanner again. “I say, French, that’s very interesting.”
“Of course it’s interesting! Isn’t it my story?”

Thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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