by Carol Westron
French’s wife, Emily, is very different from the wives of Wimsey, Campion and Alleyn. She is no crime fiction writer, engineer or artist with her own independent career, but a woman contented in the domestic sphere, looking after her home, husband and family. As she sits, knitting or mending, she occasionally has small ‘notions’ that help French to solve his cases, but her involvement in his cases is minimal. In Meet Inspector French, Crofts admits that he thinks he gave Inspector and Mrs French children but that he cannot remember where they were mentioned. This is particularly revealing when one remembers Crofts’ own childless marriage, clearly the author who could make could make sense and remember the details of the most intricate timetable or map had no interest in his character’s paternal status. Crofts also confesses that, while his reasons for making French a Scotland Yard detective were very sound, he was somewhat hampered by the fact that he knew little about life and work at Scotland Yard. He proceeded on the assumption that the reading public would also know little about police procedure but admits that many of the letters he received from readers had informed him that this was an over-optimistic point of view. However, in the Golden Age, where authors were continually insinuating their amateur detectives into official police enquiries, Crofts’ procedural errors were not necessarily a major stumbling block. When investigating, French does not always obey the law in all matters and has been known to use skeleton keys to illegally search buildings.
are only available second-hand.
The Fragility of Poppies