This seemingly unfathomable case tests Worcestershire’s finest: Detective Inspector Stan Wickfield, and his appointed assistant: Sergeant Hewitt, to the limit. Author Julius Falconer takes a back seat and graciously allows the inspector, freedom to tell the story in his own inimitable fashion, (a bit like Conan Doyle letting Sherlock Holmes off the leash.)
I must confess, I do enjoy the policeman’s own, man of the people style. With Wickfield, what you see is what you get. He is a no-nonsense, detective who knows how to call a spade a spade. However, I think Julius ought to be aware; there are occasional hints for the reader, that Wickfield could have his own literary aspirations.
In The Longdon Murders, an old couple are found dead in their daughter’s, Worcestershire-village cottage, both slumped over a table and poisoned by a contaminated bottle of wine. Their daughter is nowhere to be seen. Then shortly after, a young man’s body is discovered in a London bed-sit. He’s been killed in a similar fashion, again poisoned by wine. These apparently unconnected events, investigated by two independent police forces, turn out to be caused by a very rare poison. This requires the best detective brains to unravel a devious plot. Who then has the patience, the methodical mind and dogged perseverance to get to the bottom of it? The call goes out to bring in Inspector Wickfield!
These murders take all the detective’s ingenuity and painstaking determination, and there are times when he thinks he’s come up with the answer, only to find he’s been led down a blind alley. Poor old Wickfield is repeatedly thwarted by interference from a senior police officer, living and working abroad; who keeps sticking his nose in, with his own pet theories. Our policeman’s lot is not a happy one.
As with other hard and tricky cases, a chance remark by Beth, Wickfield’s clever and intuitive spouse, sends him off in a fresh and positive direction, enabling him at last, to see bright daylight at the end of a long and arduous tunnel.
For a brilliant insight into the skulduggery and devious machinations of the criminal mind, you would be hard put to beat Julius Falconer and his Wickfield detective mysteries.