Major William Austen is not happy with his current position in the army. As the war nears its end, he wants to go back to his earlier position in the Scotland Yard. He is currently a top-shot in the espionage department but wants to become a Chief Inspector once again. His friend Andrea tells him that he needs a break and when he tells her that he has some leave coming up asks him to accompany her to a wedding.
It seemed Andrea for all her sensible nature had fallen hook, line, and sinker for an RAF officer Ralph Beaufort. But then she had taken him to her home in the country and introduced him to neighbour Jeanne (at one time plain Jean) Foster… with the result that Ralph was now marrying Jeanne. Andrea wants William to accompany her to the wedding so that she can show the world that she doesn’t care two hoot for Ralph any longer. Nor is she sad about the wedding. William, who is her childhood friend, agrees. Everything goes off well till the time the party returns from the church but when the couple is to start for their honeymoon, the bride is found dead. Who could have hated her so much? William has to consider the fact that perhaps Andrea, all her protestations to the contrary, still cared enough for Ralph to kill his newly-wedded bride.
I found this novel to be full of spite. It seemed at times that only Andrea is the one woman who is beautiful in and out, the others are all presented in a very spiteful manner as shallow and superficial. It makes for some very unsatisfying read. Also how many times are we to read William reassuring Andrea that though as a friend, he doesn’t believe that she killed Jeanne but as a police officer he has to consider all possibilities. How much reassurance does she want?
The book is dedicated to one “BILL (MAJOR W.R. CARR) WITH FRIENDSHIP AND AFFECTION”. It makes me wonder whether the character of William is based on this Major.
Not a very stimulating introduction to the author but I don’t want to dismiss her after just one read so will definitely be reading more of her.
First Line: “I wish,” said Major Austen, plaintively, pushing his coffee cup aside and leaning his elbows on the table, “that they would let me be a real policeman again.”
Publication Details: London: Geoffrey Bles, 1946
First Published: 1946