Recent Events

Sunday 27 August 2023

‘Let X Be The Murderer’ by Clifford Witting

Published by Galileo Publishers,
20 July 2023.
ISBN: 978-1-91553000-4 (PB)

Detective Sergeant Martin has just got into work at Lulverton police station on a cold November day when he receives a most peculiar phone call from a man who claims that, during the night, he was in his bed when he was attacked by a ghost that had tried to strangle him. As a rule, Martin and his superior officer, Inspector Charlton, would have dismissed the report as the ramblings of a madman, but when the complainant is Sir Victor Warringham, an influential and wealthy retired businessman, they have to take some sort of action.

Charlton visits Sir Victor’s home on his country estate but when he arrives, he is denied access to the old gentleman. Mrs Winters, his housekeeper, says that her employer is too ill to see the police and implies that his ailments are physical. However, Sir Victor’s son-in-law, who has moved in with him, along with his second wife, claims that Sir Victor’s ill-health is mental in its nature and that his wild claims should not be taken seriously. Sir Victor’s daughter and wife had died in enemy bombing during the Second World War, and he has never fully recovered from his grief. It is otherwise with his son-in-law, Clement Harler, who married again soon after his first wife’s death. When Charlton meets Harler, he considers him an unprepossessing and dishonest man and thinks that his second wife bears all the hallmarks of a night club hostess with an eye for the main chance.

As they are leaving the estate, Charlton and Martin pass a familiar figure, Mr Howard, a local solicitor and the detectives plan to approach him later to see if he is willing to share any information about the state of affairs at Sir Victor’s estate. Moments later the detectives are startled by the sound of a shot. Charlton tracks down the source to a young boy, ten-year-old John Campbell, who lives at the house with his aunt, Mrs Winters. John had been practising, using blank cartridges, with a gun he had borrowed without permission from a neighbour, Tom Blackmore.

When Charlton interviews Mr Howard, the solicitor confirms that a change of will was contemplated by Sir Victor and it seems probable that there is a sinister plot to drive the rich old man into insanity. However, when violent death occurs, the victim is not the person that anyone had anticipated and, as the plot grows more complex, Charlton and Martin have to work quickly to prevent a further murder.

Let X Be The Murderer is the seventh novel featuring Inspector Harry Charlton, and it was originally published in 1947. It has a clever, intricate plot and the detective protagonists are engaging and likeable professionals. It is a very enjoyable book for readers who enjoy classic crime.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Clifford Witting (1907-1968) was born in Lewisham, England. He was educated at Eltham College, London, between 1916 and 1924. During World War II he served as a bombardier in the Royal Artillery, 1942-44, and as a Warrant Officer in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, 1944-46. He married Ellen Marjorie Steward in 1934 and they had one daughter. Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked as a clerk in Lloyds bank from 1924 to 1942. He was Honorary Editor of The Old Elthamian magazine, London. from 1947 up to his death. His first novel Murder in Blue was published in 1937 and his series characters were Sergeant (later Inspector) Peter Bradford and Inspector Harry Charlton. Unusually, he didn’t join The Detection Club until 1958 by which time he had written 12 detective novels.

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book click on the title
The Curse of the Concrete Griffin

No comments:

Post a Comment