Ah! The beauty of the Devonshire countryside. Who would dare to blemish this lovely spot with arson and murder? That is the question facing Inspector MacDonald of Scotland Yard. It’s near the end of World War II and Nicholas Vaughan has retired from the Navy after losing an eye in a shipboard incident. He takes up the tenancy of a cottage and land called Little Thatch in Devon and immediately begins fixing the place up. He’s a very quiet man but lets it slip to his landlord, Colonel St. Cyres, that he is planning to take a wife. That is until the night that the cottage burns down with him in it. The Coroner rules it an accident but Vaughan’s former Navy superior wields his influence and gets MacDonald sent to take a second look at the investigation. What seems straightforward at the outset turns into a very twisty tale.
This book is a British Library Crime Classic and the first I have read by this author. I would say that it reads most like a cozy mystery but with the complexity of classic British crime. The story contains a variety of country and urban characters and makes a point of showing up the contrasts between the two. I found Inspector MacDonald to be what you would expect of Scotland Yard at that time: thorough, professional, and dogged in pursuit of answers. The writing style is a little more formal than today’s mysteries but not difficult to read. There are however some conversations with the Devon natives that are written in dialect and were a bit of challenge to get through. All of that being said, I did really enjoy this story, it’s slightly old-fashioned style being a nice change from the thrillers I’ve recently being reading.
Alinefromabook’s rating: 4 stars!!