Ask A Policeman is a witty and entertaining murder mystery novel by the Detection Club, a group of leading British crime writers of the 1930s. The book is set in the sleepy village of Chipping Cleghorn, where a series of murders take place, leading the local police force and the members of the Detection Club to compete to solve the case.
The story begins with a seemingly innocent advertisement in the local newspaper inviting the public to witness a murder at Little Paddocks, the home of Letitia Blacklock. The advertisement is dismissed as a harmless prank, until the night of the proposed murder, when a real victim is found dead in the same room where the staged murder was meant to take place. The local police force, led by Inspector Craddock, is called to investigate the crime, but they soon find themselves out of their depth.
Enter the Detection Club, a group of amateur sleuths who have made a name for themselves solving complex crimes. The club is made up of six members, each with their own unique approach to detective work. There’s Sir Henry Clithering, a retired commissioner of Scotland Yard; Mr. Satterthwaite, a wealthy socialite with a keen eye for detail; Colonel Melchett, a military man with a passion for puzzles; Mr. Petherick, a lawyer with a sharp mind; Mrs. Oliver, a popular crime novelist with a wild imagination; and Inspector Bland, the only professional detective in the club.
The club members arrive in Chipping Cleghorn with the intention of solving the murder before the police, but soon find themselves at odds with one another. Each member has their own theory about the murder, and they are all convinced that their approach is the correct one. The competition between the club members adds a layer of humor and tension to the story, and the reader is kept guessing until the very end.
One of the strengths of Ask A Policeman is its cast of eccentric and memorable characters. Letitia Blacklock, the owner of Little Paddocks, is a fascinating and enigmatic figure, and the club members are all larger-than-life personalities. Mrs. Oliver, in particular, is a standout character. Her outrageous behavior and outlandish theories provide a lot of laughs, but she also has moments of shrewd insight that prove her worth as a detective.
The plot of Ask A Policeman is cleverly constructed, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. The mystery is not overly complex, but it is satisfyingly challenging, and the reader is given enough clues to attempt to solve the case alongside the detectives. The solution to the crime is surprising and satisfying, and the various threads of the story are neatly tied up at the end.
Ask A Policeman is a delightful and entertaining murder mystery that showcases the wit and skill of the Detection Club. The interplay between the amateur detectives is a highlight of the book, and the setting of a small village in the English countryside adds to the charm of the story. Fans of classic British detective fiction will enjoy this book, and it is sure to appeal to anyone looking for a cozy mystery with a bit of humor and a lot of heart.
You can pick up a copy of Ask a Policeman here.