A yacht adrift in the English Channel whose only passengers are two dead men poses a challenge for Scotland Yard’s Inspector Joseph French in this reprint of a tale first published in 1931.
Midway from Newhaven to Dieppe, Capt. Hewitt, of the Chichester, spots a yacht whose only sign of life is a man lying on the deck. The crewmen who board the Nymph find that the man is dead. So is another man in the cabin. Both of them have been shot to death, and both of them, according to John Patrick Nolan, who shortly arrives on a motor launch to join them on what he had no idea would be their very last trip, were partners in Moxon’s General Securities. Nolan tells the Sussex County police that Paul Moxon, chairman of the firm, and his vice-chairman, Sydney Deeping, were supposedly en route to meet a French financier named Pasteur in Fécamp. But ubiquitous rumors of Moxon Securities’ imminent collapse that seem to have reached every pair of ears in England except Nolan’s suggest a more sinister errand: the partners, unable to meet their obligations, grabbed everything they could convert into cash and skedaddled. In that case, wonders French, what became of the cash and the murder weapon and the murderer, all apparently vanished from the middle of the Channel?
Veterans of golden-age whodunits will know that no one reads Crofts for his prose or his people. But the plot itself is watertight, if not exactly abounding in surprises, and the detection has dated surprisingly little.