As soon as I saw this category I was fairly certain the book I would choose would be a BLCC published book as their covers are all lovely.
Dr James Earle and his wife live in comfortable seclusion near the Hog's Back, a ridge in the North Downs in the beautiful Surrey countryside. When Dr Earle disappears from his cottage, Inspector French is called in to investigate. At first he suspects a simple domestic intrigue - and begins to uncover a web of romantic entanglements beneath the couple's peaceful rural life.
The case soon takes a more complex turn. Other people vanish mysteriously, one of Dr Earle's house guests among them. What is the explanation for the disappearances? If the missing people have been murdered, what can be the motive? This fiendishly complicated puzzle is one that only Inspector French can solve.
It's yet another 'set in the olden days' book *g* as all the books published by BLCC are.
It's an excellent mystery, one that does keep you guessing from the off as to whether the disappearances were simply disappearances or whether they were something else. The setting is lovely, the characters are well drawn and I really like Inspector French and the way he works. The pace of the book is more gentle than some, but it's not plodding.
For the most part I enjoyed the book and was caught up in the mystery and all the intricacies. It wasn't a wonderful book, I've read better but I have also read far worse. It was a nice, solid, good, enjoyable read that held my attention and kept me guessing.
Unfortunately, for me it fell apart in the final two chapters when we got to the denouement where French reveals all to his superiors. Willis Crofts detailed every single step of the way and just about every thought French had, including page numbers where the reader would find the particular 'clue'. Being a fan of older type mysteries I am used to the summing up scene - Poirot does it in most books - and enjoy them. However, the length to which Willis Crofts went and the level of detail was such that I almost lost the will to live *g* To say it was tedious is being kind; it really did spoil the book for me and turned it from a book I would have been likely to have reread at some point to one I wish I hadn't bought :-(
It's odd because I have read another Willis Crofts book (The 12:30 from Croydon) and I don't remember this kind of 'time table' type of denouement. J says he remembers it's something Willis Crofts is rather fond of doing and it's why he stopped reading his books some years ago and thinking back believes it could well have been this book that put him off the author.
Thus unless you do like the kind of extremely detailed explanation that comes with page number references so you can go back and see what clue you might have missed, then sadly I cannot recommend this book. It's a shame because up until the final two chapters it was enjoyable and I would have recommended it.