Yet again I’ve been seduced by a British Library Crime Classics cover into taking the book out of the library. I can’t help thinking there’s a good reason some of these books haven’t been reprinted until now. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Murder in Piccadilly in an unexcited way.
Bobbie is twenty three years old, has never done a day’s work in his life and lives in genteel poverty with his widowed mother. He lives on his great expectations: of coming into an estate and a fortune when his uncle dies. The blithering idiot falls for a gold-digging little dancer and gets drawn into a Soho crowd in which he’s completely out of his depth. It occurs to others that the only thing between them and a fortune (to be obtained from waste of space Bobbie) is uncle’s life. This tale takes up half the book, and by that stage we know why, how but not exactly who. Things liven up with the appearance of Chief Inspector Wade, who has to sort out the muddle leading up to the now notorious murder, which has gripped London. The accounts of police procedure here are rather nostalgic. Wade is one of those coppers who knows and is known by most of the criminals in London. There seem to be unlimited numbers of plain clothes men available to track all the suspects and the Yard pulls all the strings. In the end the murder is (almost) solved and there is a genuinely surprising twist.