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Constable, Guard Thyself!

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 4 months ago

Wade, Henry - Constable, Guard Thyself! (1934)



Review by Nick Fuller


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.


The quiet and competent Inspector Poole is called in, and, despite facing passive resistance from the acting Chief Constable, Superintendent Venning, sets about detecting, testing and demolishing hypotheses. Poole is a sound detective, although one finds his failure to read the Hinde report rather surprising. The in-depth police procedure is as interesting as the look behind the scenes, and the slow accumulation of facts makes for engrossing reading.


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.


My chief complaint is Wade’s use of punctuation: “I’ld,” “he’ld” and “we’ld” are annoying affectations.

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