Policeman's Lot (1933)


My review:

A baker’s dozen of stories which demonstrate that, whatever Wade’s strengths as a detective novelist, he wasn’t at all as adept with the short story.  Without a full-length puzzle to get one’s teeth into, without the room to develop characters, Wade is lost, and the reader receives only an impression of drabness and dullness.  Only two of the stories are really good: the first, “Duello,” in which Poole’s reconstruction of a modern duel / murder is coupled with a presentation of modern decadence, the product of “war-time adolescence and post-War demoralisation”; and the penultimate, “The Amateurs,” a most amusing pastiche of Raffles with an excellent twist.  For the rest, the Poole stories vary greatly in quality, ranging from the quite reasonable “Wind in the East” and “Sub-branch” to the mediocre “Baronet’s Finger” and “Missing Undergraduate” (far too silly to be believed); the Crofts pastiche, “The Three Keys,” is ingenious but utterly incomprehensible without pen and paper to hand, and “The Real Thing” is, as the title suggests, a rather violent and sordid account of police procedure, really only interesting for its possible influence on Michael Gilbert.  The rest of the book is taken up with inverted stories of little or no account, with the exception of “Four to One—Bar One,” a story so atrocious it could have been written yesterday.

To the Bibliography.

To the Henry Wade Page.

To the Grandest Game in the World.