Monday, December 23, 2013

Ransom Game: Review

It seems like if a detective fiction writer is at it long enough, s/he will try their hand at the Master Criminal plot.  Doyle did it.  Christie did it.  Chesterton did it.  And there have been others.  In Ransom Game, John Buxton Hilton pits his Inspector Kenworthy against "The Manager."  It all starts with what seems to be a random kidnapping--of the owner and patrons of a local shop in Morley Mortain.  That was big enough news--who ever heard of kidnapping nine random villagers all at once--but then the ransom demand comes in and an odd demand it is too.  "Let Franky Tasker keep white mice in his prison cell, and Morley Mortain will get its wives, lovers, and bingo callers back."  The authorities keep it quiet, but the ransom is paid and the kidnapped villagers return home telling tales of lavish accommodations and jailers who met their every wish.  It seems that the crime was a joke.  But Inspector Simon Kenworthy is called in and he suspects that this was just a practice run...and that a criminal master mind known to the police as "The Manager" is preparing for an abduction that will result in the death of innocents if his serious demands aren't met.

This is a decent police procedural.  The reader gets a real sense of all the levels of police working together to try and track down the master criminal while arranging to capture as many of the smaller fry as possible.  Inspector Kenworthy and his close associates have their share of "inspiration" and luck--but it is all believable in the context of the story.  An average mystery with interesting and likeable characters.

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