Friday, November 14, 2014

Two Men in Twenty: Reveiw

Chief Inspector Henry Martineau of the Grantchester police isn't too interested when Scotland Yard asks his assistance in tracking down canisters of oxygen that have been used in a rash of safe-cracking robberies in London. Sure, the canisters may have come from the North Western Oxygen Corporation's depot on his patch, but hundreds of canisters pass through that depot and how are he and his men supposed to trace individual cylinders when the company itself has had no luck? 

But when London becomes too hot for the XXC gang and similar robberies begin popping up in Grantchester, the problem of the canisters has Martineau's full attention. He marshals his forces and begins closing in on the gang--comprised of mastermind Howie Cain, windows & door man "Jimmy the Gent," their wheelman [driver] Bill Coggan, Leo Husker the oxygen supply source, and "Sailor Jolly" their safe expert. There are also Dorrie, Cain's wife, and her sister who case potential robbery sites. The success in London has made Cain and company a bit cocky and moving to a smaller town has also made matters a bit easier for the police--at least the haystack is a bit smaller for needle to hide in.

Martineau asks for the particulars of every robbery attributed to the XXC gang and once he's noted all the similarities he assembles a list of twenty known criminals who might be able to handle the job. From that list he manages to find two men in twenty who are just the fellas he's looking for. Cain and company can feel the net tightening around them and decide to do one last job before fading out for good. They have no idea how final that last job will be.

In Two Men in Twenty Maurice Procter has given us a little more than the usual police procedural. He has thrown in a crime procedural as a bonus. We not only get the low-down on how to go about breaking a clever gang of thieves, but we also get the details on how to put together a first-class thieving operation. And Procter does it in an interesting and fast-paced way that prevents the novel from turning into an informational snooze-fest. We read eagerly on, watching the two opposing sides on their way to a head-on collision at the company of Haddon and Walker.

Procter served in the Yorkshire police force for 19 years before turning his hand to writing about crimes instead of solving them. His experience gives his stories a feel of authenticity and his ability to write exciting little tales make his novels well-worth reading. I have to say that I while I wanted Chief Inspector Martineau to succeed in putting a stop to the XXC gang, I secretly wanted Jimmy the Gent to get away and be able to make the fresh start he's been planning. All he needs is enough cash to allow him to go straight. Will he? Well, you'll just have to read it for yourself and find out. ★★★★

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Sounds like a great read with the author's experience. Great review!