Thanks for this!
Frank Froest's pre-WWI police detective tale, The Grell Mystery, is an unexpectedly delightful read. The author, a retired Scotland Yarder himself, in the guise of New Scotland Yard's Criminal Investigation Department's (CID) Executive Chief Heldon Foyle, sets out to solve the murder of Robert Grell, American explorer, at the dead man's house at Grosvenor Gardens, London ... the butler found him. There are dozens of twists and turns, starting with the revelation almost at the outset that it's not Grell who was murdered at all though the body was found in Grell's study, wearing his clothes, and carrying his identification.
Occasionally one glimpses Froest's own agenda peeking out from behind the curtains. This was the age of Sherlock Holmes, who was still hugely popular and solving new cases in The Strand Weekly. Froest admonishes us that his detective "rarely wore a dressing-gown and never played the violin". Froest attempts to remove the glamour from detective work and, thankfully, fails: his hero, Heldon Foyle, is constantly front-and-centre, solving riddles, taking death-defying chances in opium and gambling dens, and, since his Watson is an entire field force of detectives, giving orders to his agents across London and the countryside, he has lots to do!
There is one breathtaking aspect, quite apart from the sheer fun of the plotting, and that is the ripe anti-Semitism which rears its head briefly among the thieves den of the Whitechapel ghetto Foyle enters singe-handedly. Yet that was a reflection of the world in 1913, and of British culture. Nonetheless, the views are so matter-of-factly stated, to modern ears and eyes it is a bucket of cold water. It is, however, quite incidental to the main story and should not deter anyone from investigating an unjustly forgotten detective writer's oeuvre.
Last edited by SensualPoet; 01-02-2010 at 05:47 PM.