Wednesday, July 20, 2016

No Case for the Police by V. C. Clinton-Baddeley

Dr. R. V. Davie had returned to the village of Tidwell St. Peters where he had grown up with his good friend Robert Cassillis. They had played together as young boys, and kept in touch in later years even though Davie was a professor in Cambridge, England, and Robert was off exploring sites around the world. Now Robert was dead, and Davie was returning for the funeral. Sir Robert Cassillis has designated Davie as his literary executor and as such he visited Sir Robert's home. He met Robert's much younger wife, Irene, and the family chauffeur, Donald, who was in his twenties and quite good looking. Davie would later observe them having a rather intimate moment.

Among Robert's papers, Davie found a small notebook in which Robert had made a few notes about the death of Adam Merrick, a local man, who had fallen to his death in a local quarry. The police assumed the death to be an accident or possibly suicide. Dr. Davie showed this notebook to Irene and Donald. and Irene seemed to be rather upset about it and told Davie to destroy the notebook. Later when Davie was editing Robert's biography, he found more notes about Merrick's death tucked inside the manuscript. Could Irene or Donald be involved in the death?

Davie met Giles Gifford, a young man who had been a student at Cambridge, and who also had doubts about Merrick's death. They decided to work together to find out more information about the day when Merrick had died. Davie met Merrick's wife and found out that she was having an affair. He also spoke with Ernest Stubbings who had purchased the property bordering on Merrick's. Stubbings had diverted a stream which ran through Merrick's land in order to construct a very unattractive water garden to go with his unattractive flower garden. Merrick was quite upset about this and they had had a shouting match. Also there was Arthur Parsley who collected snowstorms (those glass globes containing a scene where a snow storm is produced by shaking) and who lived quite near the quarry where the death occurred.

Davie and Giles found the solution to Merrick's death, and the police are never involved in the investigation. This is a charming classic mystery in the best style of the Golden Age of Mystery. Davie is a delightful man. The village is quaint as are the inhabitants, but underneath the surface there are many motives for a murder. It is unfortunate that this book did not include a map of Tidwell St. Peters, which would really have helped the reader to understand the geography of the neighborhood.

This book was published in 1970. V. C. Clinton-Baddeley was an editor, an actor, a writer of radio scripts and the owner of company which produced recordings of poetry. He took up writing mystery novels in the last four years of his life and wrote five mysteries which featured Dr. Davie.

I have read this book for the Silver Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt in the category of a book with a clock on the cover.

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