Constable, Guard Thyself!
Henry Wade is one of the best—and most neglected—writers of detective stories. His stories are an admirable mixture of puzzle and character study; his plots are admirably clear and concise, never deviating from probability; and his clues are well chosen.
Constable, Guard Thyself! has all of Wade’s merits. Here Wade puts a spin on the traditional gimmick of the guilty policeman by making all the suspects policemen, and the victim the Chief Constable of Brodshire, Captain Scole, who was shot in his office after being threatened by Albert Hinde, a poacher framed on a charge of murder.
Although Hinde is suspected of the murder, the circumstances of the crime (so skilfully established by the author that the reader, with the aid of an excellent map, knows the situation at once) strongly indicate an inside job—and, unless Superintendent Jason killed him, an impossible crime.
competent Inspector Poole is called in, and, despite facing passive
from the acting Chief Constable, Superintendent Venning, sets about
testing and demolishing hypotheses.
The solution is excellent, particularly the way in which the reader’s attention is diverted away from and then brought back to the Hindes. The exchange of identities, made possible by the First World War, is plausible; and the murder method is simple and convincing, Wade managing to explain away a possible flaw.
One’s chief complaint is Wade’s use of punctuation: “I’ld,” “he’ld” and “we’ld” are annoying affectations.
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