(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Victor Whitechurch’s crime novels were written when England was not at war and when the prospect of war seemed remote. During this welcomed peace, the detective story form no doubt provided amusement and stimulation for Whitechurch as well as for his readers, yet his bucolic settings and the sturdy country folk about whom he wrote with such grace seemed hardly suited to violent crime. Perhaps having no taste for tales of brutal injury, he chose to dispense with the horror in the first chapter, in which he always revealed the crime’s occurrence. From that point he could proceed, in the remaining chapters, with the less emotional work of bringing the guilty to justice.

Whitechurch’s method of plot development, confided to the reader in the foreword of the novel, no doubt made writing each all the more pleasurable and challenging. By revealing his method, Whitechurch gives the reader a special participation in the work and a more intense interest in each turn of events.