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Freeman Wills Crofts Books In Order

Publication Order of Inspector French Books

Inspector French's Greatest Case (1924) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Inspector French and the Cheyne Mystery (1926) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Starvel Hollow Tragedy (1927) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Sea Mystery (1928) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Box Office Murders (1929) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sir John Magill's Last Journey (1930) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mystery in the Channel (1931) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sudden Death (1932) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death on the Way (1932) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Hog's Back Mystery (1933) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The 12:30 from Croydon (1934) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mystery on Southampton Water (1934) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Crime at Guildford (1935) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Loss of the 'Jane Vosper' (1936) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Man Overboard (1936) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Found Floating (1937) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Antidote to Venom (1938) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The End of Andrew Harrison (1938) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fatal Venture (1939) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Golden Ashes (1940) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
James Tarrant, Adventurer (1941) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Losing Game (1941) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fear Comes to Chalfont (1942) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Affair at Little Wokeham (1943) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Enemy Unseen (1945) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death of a Train (1946) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Silence for the Murderer (1949) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dark Journey (1951) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Many a Slip (1955) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Anything to Declare? (1957) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Cask (1920) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Ponson Case (1921) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Pit Prop Syndicate (1922) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Groote Park murder (1923) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections Books

Murderers Make Mistakes (1947) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mystery of the Sleeping Car Express (1956) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Freeman Wills Crofts was an Irish author who made his name with the “Inspector French” series of novels. He was born in Dublin though his roots are English. He went to Campbell and Methodist Colleges in Belfast and when he was seventeen he became apprenticed to Berkeley D Wise his uncle. His uncle was then a chief engineer of the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway. In 1899, he graduated from apprentice to become a railway engineer. He then moved up the ranks to become a district engineer and by the time he left the service, he was a chief assistant engineer. His first foray into writing was when he was recovering from a serious illness and had to take an extended stay away from work. During this time, he worked on “The Cask” his debut novel that was published by the London publishers Messrs. Collins. His debut novel was huge as within two decades, it had become a bestseller selling more than 100,000 copies.

When he moved to Guildford England, he decided to quit his job with the railways to become a full-time author. Still, a ton of his novels are themed on transport, travel and trains, particularly anything to do with transport timetables and the Guildford setting. He still kept up with developments in engineering and also pursued his interests in music where he was a conductor and organist. He also did some travel, gardening and carpentry. Since retiring from the railways and becoming a full-time author, he became prolific and wrote one novel every year until his decease. He was also active in other writing endeavors that included 30 radio plays for the BBC, about 50 short stories, several crime novels. He also wrote “The Four Gospels in One Story” that was a religious work, “Young Robin Brand, Detective” a juvenile mystery, and “Sudden Death” a play. However, he came into his own with the Inspector Joseph French character of the “Inspector French” series. The character was the lead in 30 detective novels that the author published starting in 1924 until his death in 1957.

In the 1920s and the 1930s, he was one of the best five detective authors in the UK as he pioneered the realistic police detection in “Unbreakable Alibi,” which spawned many imitators. He was a master of logical construction, lucid exposition and often rose to the occasion to write red herrings and misdirection that can only be compared to the likes of Agatha Christie. He is credited with distilling romance and making police routine detective work fascinating. He was not only esteemed by his audiences who loved his unconventional style but also his fellow authors that wrote in the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Agatha Christie included elements of Inspector French in her novels alongside her lead Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes in her 1929 published work “Partners in Crime.” According to Raymond Chandler, he was an author that did not get too fancy in his building. Chandler praised his concentration and attention to detail, which made him one of the most innovative police procedural authors. However, some such as Julian Symons have described him as an old school author, which may perhaps explain why he has not been as familiar to modern audiences as compared to the other Golden Age authors.

Freeman Wills Crofts’s first novel was “French’s Greatest Case” that is introduced with a murder reported at the offices of Duke and Peabody in Hatton Garden, London. It is a cold night in November when Charles Gething an employee of the diamond trading firm is found lying prostate inside the offices of the managing partner of the firm Mr. Duke. The large Milner safe inside Mr. Duke’s office has been ransacked and thousands of pounds and diamonds worth thirty-three thousand pounds have been stolen. On the side of Mr. Gething’s head is a huge wound most likely made by a blunt object which had probably led to his death. The police believe the motive behind the crime was the theft of the money and the diamonds that had been in the safe. Inspector French of the New Scotland Yard Criminal Investigation Department is called in to investigate.

“Inspector French and the Starvel Tragedy” the second novel in the “Inspector French” series by Will Crofts is the story of Ruth Averill. Ruth is living with her uncle, an old and curmudgeonly miser who cares little for her. She is a twenty-year-old girl with few life prospects and no money. It is thus a huge surprise when she gets a note from some relatives asking her to visit them. Her uncle gives her ten pounds and she does not understand why he is all of a sudden so generous. It seems too good to be true and she soon learns that it was as she comes back home to find their house burned to ashes. Three people are dead from the tragedy including two servants and her uncle. It seems to have been a freak accident but there are a few details that do not add up. For instance, Ruth’s uncle used to keep all his money in the supposed fireproof safe but the contents of the safe are found badly burned. Scotland Yard’s Inspector French is called in to investigate. He is known for his meticulous nature as he is never one to jump to conclusions, instead double-checking every clue, hint, alibi and proof. He is a hardworking man rather than an intuitive genius and he puts in the hours to make sure that he resolves the arson and triple murder mystery. But though he is a very good detective it is going to take a lot of effort and time to catch a very clever murderer and arsonist that has committed what is possibly a perfect crime.

Freeman Wills Crofts’s “The Box Office Murders” is the story of a crime ring in London that had recently been going after cinema box office girls. Inspector French gets to work investigating the case since he was approached by one of the girls who had thereafter been kidnapped and then found murdered. But French soon finds that this is one of his hardest cases he has ever handled. He cannot figure out the motive for the blackmailing of the girls and how this is helping the ring make money. But he is gradually making inroads into the workings of the organization and persuades another box office girl to cooperate. The girl is soon kidnapped and afraid that she might suffer a similar fate like her colleagues, he works doubly hard to obtain her freedom. What follows is a thrilling story as French almost dies tracking and pursuing the most hardcore members of the crime ring. It is an ingenious novel that shows Inspector French at his best.

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