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White Face

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on January 30, 2007 at 12:17:35 pm

Wallace, Edgar - White Face (1930)


Wallace at his best is second to none - and this is Wallace at his best. Our old friend Sergeant Elk plays a prominent part, but the main burden is carried by Superintendent "Sympathetic" Mason as he tries to unravel the related cases of the white-masked hold-up man White Face and the dead confidence trickster from South Africa. Real people with lives of their own move in and out of the limelight as Mason and Elk prowl the dingy streets of London's Tidal Basin, trying to find out who knifed Donald Bateman. Red herrings abound. Was it the unsuccessful pickpocket Lamborn, the elderly cabman, the man without a name, or the husband of the woman he blackmailed? Did Bateman himself, as crooked as a corkscrew, have secrets in his past? Mason ties it all together at last in a very satisfying knot -- no loose ends here.


First-rate, and generously seasoned with Wallace's sly humour:


"You couldn't prove anything against me, except by the well-known perjury methods of the London police. I dare say you'll put half a dozen of your tame noses in the box and swear me life away, but Gawd's in his heaven!"

"Where did you learn that bit?" asked Mason curiously.

Lamborn shrugged his shoulders theatrically.

"When I'm in stir I only read poetry," he explained. "The book lasts longer because you can't understand it."

He sipped noisily at his coffee, put down the cup with a clatter and leaned towards Mason.

"You haven't got a chance of convicting me. I've been thinking it out in the cell."

Mason smiled pityingly.

"The moment you start thinking, Harry, you're lost," he said. "It's like putting a cow on a tight-rope. You're not built for it..."


White Face can be downloaded free from Gutenberg Australia.



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