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The Cask Kindle Edition
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|Kindle, December 3, 2018||
Mr. Wills Crofts is deservedly a first favourite with all who want a real puzzle’ - Times Literary Supplement, 12th May 1931--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B07L488BJH
- Publisher : Reading Essentials (December 3, 2018)
- Publication date : December 3, 2018
- Language : English
- File size : 483 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 326 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #514,790 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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The story itself is longer than it needs to be. If this is another case where the original story was serialized in a magazine over several months, then it makes sense, but as a stand-alone book, it’s too long. Where a paragraph will do, he writes a chapter.
Given that this is a hundred-year-old story, we can’t expect modern police procedures to be in use, but the sloppy work done by detectives in this story make us wonder how many innocent people went to the gallows back then because they couldn’t afford to have their own investigators. Although, I admit, the ‘lets come up with a convoluted theory and find some things we can call evidence’ procedure is still in use today in many places.
Now, to say I dislike Croft’s work is not true. I just hate this particular story. I read this because I enjoyed a couple of his Inspector French stories, and I’m happy to say they are nothing like The Cask. I believe The Cask was his first work, and it seems he loosened up on his writing style and became more readable as he became a more experienced writer.
The concept is terrific. A cask putatively containing French statuary cracks open on London docks and is found to contain several dozen gold sovereigns, mountains of sawdust and the body of a young woman. The solution to the crime obligates Inspector Burnley of the Yard to travel to and from France and to and from the northern environs of London to discover the identity of the victim, the murderer and the murderer's method and motivation.
Every single step of the way is charted in painful detail. While the book is 280 substantial pages it feels more like 600. The principal problem is the nearly complete absence of characterization. Watching the great British crime series, George Gently, the other evening, I checked out the subsidiary material. In one of the interviews Martin Shaw comments that the stories are hardly crime fiction at all. They are stories about people and their personal relationships. While much mainstream fiction utilizes crime fiction elements to give its stories heft and interest, all great crime fiction utilizes mainstream fiction's elements (setting, character, plot, theme) to make Novels. THE CASK has no characterization to speak of, no themes to speak of; it is all plot (in interesting but not fully-realized settings).
So what is a reader to do? Read THE CASK as a historical document; see its place in the history of mystery and crime fiction.
Warning: steer clear of the final pp. of the book, where everything is not only resolved but tied up in a bow so large and so generous that we feel as if we might have tumbled into fairy taledom. SPOILER: the murderer is the most obvious individual and, in some ways, the only possible individual since the mystification concerning a possible perpetrator is so obviously a distraction that the real perp is clear from the get-go. The mystery is all in the execution.
One interesting tidbit for crime writers. The chapter headings evoke the world of the Saturday afternoon serial ("Lefarge Hunts Alone"; "Some Damning Evidence"; "The Unravelling of the Web") and a couple have cliffhanger endings. This is cool and fun.
Warning: if you imagine an early reader, ensconced in a smoking jacket, resting in fine leather and sipping chilled, dry sherry and want to replicate the experience—you're going to need at least a case to get to the end of this story.
Top reviews from other countries
There are comparatively few characters but they are nicely developed and, for the most part, amiable and likeable. There is none of the angst which seems compulsory these days. Because the cast is relatively small the number of suspects is limited so this is not really a whodunnit but Freeman Wills Crofts was the master of the seemingly unbreakable alibi and this is his very enjoyable first foray into the genre which would become his speciality.
The book features an introduction written by the author himself some twenty years after the original publication. In it he comments that his later books were shorter as he discovered that he could get the same royalties for 80,000 words as the 120,000 in the Cask. Personally I found that the slightly longer format worked well and the book felt unhurried but not padded.
He explains in his introduction that the original third section of the book was set during a trial but that the publishers had requested him to rewrite it. It would have been nice had the original been included for comparison but as the book already has higher page count than others in this series that may have been asking too much (assuming of course that the original survives...)
The story then is in three parts - the first section takes place in London and follows genial but determined Inspector Burnley as he struggles to track down the cask and piece together what is going on. In the second section the action moves to Paris where Inspector Burnley teams up with an old friend - Inspector Lefarge - to continue his investigations. The final section takes place in both cities as the case moves towards its conclusion.
For those looking for an action packed novels full of hair's breadth escapes and daring do this is not it - though there are scenes of drama and tension as the net tightens however for a beautifully written and highly readable novel which evokes the atmosphere of a gentler and less rushed time I highly recommend this both to fans of the genre and those looking to explore an early Golden Age novel.
The Cask takes place in both London and Paris. When a cask arrives in London from Paris it causes suspicion. Supposed to hold a statue, gold rolls out when it is opened slightly and there is a glimpse of a hand. What follows is the disappearance of the cask, tracking it down and then trying to decide where it came from and who is to blame for the body inside. Inspector Burnley is the English detective sent in search of the truth, working in Paris alongside Lefarge. Both the detectives are intelligent, hard working and follow up the clues thoroughly. There is also George La Touche, a private detective, who almost loses his life in his attempt to discover what happened. This is very much a puzzle - with clues that are confusing but which can be followed (personally I gave up and simply enjoyed the story, but I am sure you could solve it if you made notes!). It is interesting to read this very early example of the genre and it is easy to see why Crofts is revered by those who enjoy books from this era.
Freeman Wills Crofts's 1920 detective novel is set in both London and Paris, enjoyably evoking both the cities and its period setting. Although this is an early Golden Age detective story, Crofts's also includes some nice variations within the genre.
Throughout the book there is an emphasis on the nuts and bolts of the investigation and at times this became quite tedious, especially when characters' alibis are checked and re-checked in minute detail. Overall, however, "The Cask" is a pleasant and sometimes exciting read.