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The Sea Mystery

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 2 months ago

Crofts, Freeman Wills - The Sea Mystery


The best parts of The Sea Mystery (1928) are the opening chapters, which show the discovery of the body, and Inspector French's reconstruction of part of the crime. Despite the book's title, these are the only parts of the story that take place on the water - the remainder of the book takes place on dry land. They have a magical, lyrical quality that the rest of the book lacks. They are also the only parts of the book concerned with pure detection. French uses logic, reasoning and science and engineering skills to reconstruct a very mysterious looking crime; these sections are a gem of pure detection. These chapters anticipate in tone Crofts' immediately following novel, The Box Office Murders (1929). Warning: Chapter 2 refers to the events of The Cask, with considerable wit and self referential pizzazz, but also giving away much of the plot of that book. So don't read this until you have read Crofts' classic Cask. The rest of the book is a Golden Age detective novel, with French trying to explore a maze like puzzle plot involving a multiple disappearance. Unfortunately, Crofts' plot twists here are not too baffling, or too original either. He is in there trying, however, and these later sections sometimes have their moments.


Mike Grost



Review by Nick Fuller


Slow-moving and methodical as Mr. Crofts is, on occasion he thoroughly engages the reader. This plot revolves around the discovery of a battered corpse in a crate off the coast of Wales; Inspector French is called in, and does an excellent job of discovering how it got there, a discovery which leads him to the disappearance of Messrs. Berlyn and Pyke from Ashburton, Devon, and to the conclusion that the body is Pyke’s. his pursuit of his two principal suspects, Berlyn and Colonel Domlio, is slow but steady, and plenty of clues and incidents keep up suspense. The mystery appears to have been solved by Chapter Eighteen, but, through excellent management of the plot, becomes mystifying again before the excellent surprise solution. At the end, French and the reader are both “satisfied.”

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