Scotland Yard Inspector French, who is featured in Freeman Wills Crofts's The Hog's Back Mystery, was quite popular among the readers of detective stories, beginning with his first appearance, in Inspector French's Greatest Case, originally published in 1924. French is called in to solve what appears to be a straightforward murder and robbery at a firm of diamond merchants, where the head office clerk is found lying in front of an open – and, alas, empty – safe. It is the kind of case that might be expected to be fairly straightforward and easy to solve. But we soon discover that there are all kinds of complications – and that we are faced with a criminal who has ingeniously prepared a number of false trails, the better to conceal the truth.
Unlike many of the fictional police detectives of the day, Inspector French was a thoroughly competent policeman who used the routine procedures of police work to help him find the clues he needed to solve his cases. We puzzle over the clues with him and share his pleasure when he is able to interpret them correctly – and his frustrations when a particular line of his investigation fizzles out, leaving him to go back and pick up the threads and move in another direction.
I reviewed Inspector French's Greatest Case some years ago on this blog, and you can listen to my original podcast review by clicking here. I am delighted to find that the book is available in print as well as in electronic editions. I think you would enjoy it.