Inspector West Kicks Off (aka Sport for Inspector West; 1949) by John Creasey
Guy Randall was on top of the world. He was newly engaged. He had just landed a big contract for his printing company. But someone wanted him dead and stole his briefcase with the details of contract deal after shooting him. When Chief Inspector Roger West is assigned to the case, those who knew Randall are bit taken aback--because there's a great deal of similarity between West and the dead salesman. The shock value comes in handy for a few of the interviews. But the trail is a twisty one and West finds two themes coming up repeatedly--a big food company and a particular football team. It seems that all of the suspects involved in the case are fans of the same team. West has to discover what football and food has to do with each other. And why Randall had to die. An eager journalist is hot on the trail as well and is always one step ahead of the police. But when he disappears, West finds the links that he can make into a chain to trap the villains. The grand finale finds West on the field in front of thousands of spectators facing off with the leader of the gang--and he scores a goal that makes the crowd go wild.
I was so relieved that Turnbull wasn't in this one that I would have given out more stars for that alone. But the story is absolutely worth every star point I give it. West is on the top of his game here and all of his subordinates do an excellent job of detecting as well. The plot is intricate and full of action and I was pleased with how it all came together. My only real quibble is with the motive for Randall's death and how long it took to get even a hint of it. I'm also wondering how often West is going to get hurt in this series and what his secret is for recuperation--he seems to be up and rarin' to go awfully quick for a man who had a large chunk of building fall on him... ★★★★
First line: Guy Randall had no idea that he was going to die.
Last line: But the laughter rang hollow and it was a dejected man who left the house.
Deaths = 5 (one shot; two run over by car; one fell from height; one beaten to death)