THE LONG ARM OF THE LAW by Martin Edwards


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Tired of newspaper headlines that accuse cops of malfeasance or worse? Veteran editor Edwards (Continental Crimes, 2017, etc.) has the perfect antidote: 15 reprints of stories from 1908 to 1966 showing English police officers at (generally) their most sterling.

By their very nature, police procedurals unfold over an extended period. These authors haven’t got much time; their investigations generally focus on tightknit family groups instead of casting a wider net. Alice and Claude Askew’s melodramatic tale of poisoning and George R. Sims’ account of a child whose throat has been cut are of mostly historical interest. John Creasey’s heartfelt tale of Chief Inspector Roger West questioning a young boy who’s the best and only witness to the circumstances surrounding his mother’s murder has room for exactly one surprise, and Freeman Willis Crofts’ miniature inverted tale even less than that. But although readers may not expect much ingenuity in these generally stolid unravelings, the anecdote one Deptford Police Constable tells about another delivers a reliable snap in Edgar Wallace's entry; Lawrence W. Meynell provides a clue worthy of the most brilliant amateur sleuth; Leonard R. Gribble constructs and deconstructs an inventive fraud with panache; Henry Wade supplies a workmanlike killer and an even more workmanlike pair of coppers; Nicholas Blake briskly links the death of a guide dog to a more consequential murder; and Christianna Brand’s witty, heartless tale of Inspector Cockrill solving a murder among a family of thespians is predictably just as clever, page for page, as her Cockrill novels. As a bonus, Roy Vickers’ matter-of-fact tale of a bigamist brought to summary justice and Michael Gilbert’s unearthing of a long and shocking chain of murders really do carry something like the cumulative weight of a roman policier.

A collection of curiosities best spaced out over several sessions but still a most civilized anecdote to contemporary stories about the police, fictional or non-.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2018
ISBN: 1-4642-0906-5
Page count: 234pp
Publisher: Poisoned Pen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2017


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