Mystery crime fiction written in the Golden Age of Murder
“At 8 o'clock in the evening on the 8th of November, there was a terrific explosion in Green Lane, Evingden.”
The offices of the Excelsior Joinery Company have been blown to smithereens; three of the company directors are found dead amongst the rubble, and the peace of a quiet town in Surrey lies in ruins. When the supposed cause of an ignited gas leak is dismissed and the presence of dynamite revealed, Superintendent Littlejohn of Scotland Yard is summoned to the scene.
But beneath the sleepy veneer of Evingden lies a hotbed of deep-rooted grievances. The new subject of the town's talk, Littlejohn's investigation is soon confounded by an impressive cast of suspicious persons, each concealing their own axe to grind.
First published in 1964, Bellairs' novel of small-town grudges with calamitous consequences revels in the abundant possible solutions to its central, explosive crime as a masterpiece of misdirection.
Originally published in 1964, this unimpressive entry in the British Library Crime Classics series from Bellairs (1902 1982) takes Scotland Yarder Thomas Littlejohn, now a superintendent, to Evingden in Surrey, where an explosion in the building housing the Excelsior Joinery Company has reduced the structure to rubble and killed three of the company's five directors. Once the authorities rule out an accident, Littlejohn begins to explore possible motives for the crime, starting with a look into the company's troubled finances. The two directors left alive are the elderly and infirm chairman, Tom Hoop, and his managing director son, Fred. Fred invites suspicion by refusing to disclose his whereabouts at the time of the deaths before making himself scarce. As the title indicates, Littlejohn has other suspects to pursue, but the dramatic nature of the crime isn't matched by the resolution. Whodunit fans will be disappointed.