Friday, February 20, 2009


I have started reading Inspector French's Greatest Case and the change of style is hard going. The author  Freeman Wills Croft was Chief Assistant Engineer at Belfast Counties Railway and some of the narrative reads like a train timetable.

The quaintness and dated nature of the story  [1924] is exemplified by lines such as:

"Is there a postal delivery between half past four and the time your office closes?" 

and "An Oxford Street bus brought him to the end of Hatton Garden...."

I am old enough to remember trams and two postal deliveries a day, but did Detective Inspectors from New Scotland Yard travel by bus in 1924? 

"A visit to Colonel FitzGeorge was undoubtedly his next step. He picked up a Bradshaw. Yes, there would be time to go that night. A train left Paddington at 8.10 which would bring him to Reading before 9.00."

It is passages like that which makes one realise that the world in 1924 was a lot closer to Jack Whicher's 1860 or Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes story in 1887 than to the Ed McBain or Sjowall and Wahloo police procedurals of the 1960s. For one thing Inspector French is conducting a Europe wide investigation [London, Amsterdam, Chamonix, Barcelona] on his own by train!

I'll probably get more into the novel in a few more pages.

[A Bradshaw is a railway timetable not a Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback]


Blogger Dorte H said...

Classic crime fiction can seem a bit remote and slow so I mostly read it if I like the period or the author writes exceptionally well.

Pleased to see your little flags, Norman ;) - and all different!

7:14 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Dorte. It has been a long time since I read Classic crime and it is just so different.

I do like those flags. :0) I must check if the browser blocker works. Best wishes.

10:46 AM  

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