A clever sleuth’s efforts to find a missing man involve him in murder.
H.R. Hunt, the head of Hunt Coffee Limited, wants Jack Haldean, a World War I pilot turned mystery writer and amateur sleuth, to find his vanished great-nephew Mark Helston. Although the police have concluded that Mark left for reasons of his own, Haldean (Off the Record, 2011, etc.) agrees, despite his reservations, to look for him. Mark and his sister Pat inherited a large amount of money from their grandmother, most of it going to Mark. Pat, who’s been collecting an income from her share, would inherit it all if Mark was proved dead. A body Haldean finds in a deserted house is identified as that of the Brazilian who managed the Hunt coffee plantation. Suddenly Mark is a murder suspect. The case becomes even more confusing when Pat’s first husband, Larry Tyrell, who was reported killed in the war, turns up claiming amnesia. Pat’s current husband, Greg Jaggard, loves her despite their often rocky relationship and is suspicious that Tyrell’s appeared now that Pat may be in line for a fortune. H.R. Hunt has a pal of Haldean’s looking for reasons for the company’s suspiciously low profits, even though Frederick Hunt, who currently runs the business, is untroubled by them. When a company secretary is murdered and Haldean finds Mark buried under another man’s name, Jaggard is arrested for murder. Haldean doesn’t believe in Jaggard’s guilt, but it will be tough to prove him innocent.
A classic mystery in the style of Philip Macdonald’s Anthony Gethryn stories; complex, insouciant and very British.