Friday, September 1, 2023

The Case Against Paul Raeburn

 The Case Against Paul Raeburn (aka Triumph for Inspector West; 1948) by John Creasey

Paul Raeburn is on his way home in his fancy Rolls Royce when he's hailed by a man blocking the road. It winds up being a man he thought was dead. A man who thinks Raeburn done him dirty (leaving him to hold the bag on a little matter of fraud and arson) and he means to make Raeburn pay...through the nose. But Raeburn isn't having any of that...he knocks the man out and then runs over him with his Rolls. When Raeburn is nabbed by a constable who was practically on the spot, Inspector Roger West is delighted. He's positive that this time the police have a case that will stick.

But West is wrong. A surprise witness appears at the trial to support Raeburn's claim of an unavoidable accident. She swears that the man dashed in front of the car and there was no way Raeburn could have missed him. Raeburn is set free and West redoubles his efforts to find a way to put the unscrupulous businessman behind bars. Raeburn seems to have the upper hand...but everyone makes mistakes. West just has to be patient and wait for Raeburn to make the one that will lead to his downfall. When men associated with the case begin to die, West knows that time is coming soon.

Definitely not a whodunnit--we know from the beginning that Raeburn is a killer. We know who he killed and how he did it. The only question is will this slimy high-end crook get away with it? Inspector West repeatedly thinks he's got Raeburn exactly where he wants him, only to have the man slide out of his grasp. It's not looking good for the forces of good even as the last few pages come in sight.

Creasey writes a darn good police procedural and this one is better than most. We get to see all the details as West endeavors to get his man. And they're not tedious details--very interesting maneuvers to rightfully pin the crimes on the man behind it all. It's a definite challenge when Raeburn seems able to cover his tracks and manage to make West look bad in the press all at the same time. A fascinating study of a real battle of wits and nerve. ★★★★

First line: The powerful car moved swiftly and quietly along the road which led across Clapham Common.

Last line: "Good old pop!"


Deaths = 4 (one run over; one gassed; two poisoned)

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