Monday, November 30, 2015

The Two Tickets Puzzle: Review

A manufacturer, by the name of Preston is found dead under the seat of a railway carriage, wounded in several places. When the autopsy is complete, it is revealed that he was shot with bullets of two different calibres. Somebody made quick work of it--taking advantage of one of two uninterrupted stretches of the train journey. There are several likely suspects--from Preston's doctor, who is rumored to be carrying on with Preston's wife to his wife who married for money but didn't bargain on the type of man she was really marrying to the clerk from his factory, recently dismissed and mysteriously in possession of bank notes which Preston had just gotten from the bank that morning. 

Superintendent Ross is brought into the case by Superintendent Campden. They've just been collaborating over another case and Ross is with Campden when the call comes in about the body on the 10:35 train from Horston. Since it's unclear where on the journey the murder occurred, it's possible that the case could fall under either man's district. And, though it initially looks as though they'll be sharing the work, Ross and his Inspector Morningside are the detectives who take center stage in the investigation. Morningside is put to work identifying every passenger on that train--and he manages to hook up the surrendered tickets with the passengers in Preston's first class carriage and the third-class carriage behind it. The detectives are certain that the murderer must have been in one of those carriages if he was to approach Preston without being seen. Where did he come from and when did he leave?

There are added problems for the men to solve. Who shot farmer Chepstow's prize ram and why? Who threw Preston's attache case out the window? Why were there two calibres of bullets? Whose spectacles were smashed in the compartment? And what is the importance of a prank telegram and the car-jacking of a lawyer's car?

This is a very detailed police procedural--complete with diagrams and railway timetables. Superintendent is a very thorough detective who follows up all the clues and investigates all the references made by his witnesses. Perhaps a bit too thorough for some modern readers who expect a bit more action, but for vintage mystery buffs it is a fine example of detailed plotting and early police procedural. There is an exciting car chase with an explosive (quite literally) grand finale to help satisfy the need for action and the plot is explained in clear detail for those who may have missed some of the clues. Highly enjoyable vintage crime novel from 1930 by J. J. Connington who is better known for his Sir Clinton Driffield novels. ★★  and 1/2 

Thanks to Chad Arment and Coachwhip Publications for this lovely review copy.  The inestimable Curtis Evans provides an introduction with much insight and information on Connington (pen name for Alfred Walter Stewart) and his fiction.

[Disclaimer: My review policy is posted on my blog, but just to reiterate....The book was offered to me for impartial review  and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments in this review are entirely my own honest opinion.] 

1 comment:

fredamans said...

It sounds like a great read if you like procedurals. Great review!