Source: Review Copy (Mad Sheep)
I was sufficiently intrigued by my first experience of this author yesterday, that today I have decided to delve into another of Tracy’s novels. For more information on Tracy and his characters you can read my post yesterday or go onto the Mad Sheep website and see the other titles they have available.
John Menzies Grant is in for a surprise one morning when walking by a river adjacent to his home, noticing a rope stapled into the shingle. The surprise comes when the rope is hauled out of the water and a dead woman is found on the end of it. Events rapidly become very awkward for Grant as unfortunately for him the victim is someone he not only knows, but also someone he asked to marry three years ago, yet the relationship disintegrated when he realised she was already married. Local opinion, fuelled by the victim’s estranged husband turns against Grant quickly and the local police are not all that friendly either. Even worse for him is the strain this puts on his romantic interests elsewhere, with the eponymous postmaster’s daughter. Luckily for Grant Scotland Yard is called in, which of course brings along policeman and fairy godmother, Inspector Furneaux and his senior colleague Chief Inspector Winter.
As with yesterday’s read, Tracy is good at opening his stories with a surprising setup, though in the case of today’s novel, the murder investigation is more conventional and avoids descending into a light thriller. This is not to say that Furneaux and Winter’s investigation in The Postmaster’s Daughter, lacks surprises. Furneaux and Winter are as enjoyable as ever in this book, though unfortunately we do not see as much of them in this book, as in the story reviewed yesterday. Tracy riffs on Holmes’ character with Furneaux, as he has his sleuth classify criminals by their brand of tobacco. A trope shared by the two books is that a pretty young woman is once more at the bottom of the crime and this same such woman is used as bait for the culprit to incriminate themselves. The killers too hold similarities as well and in a way I think both tales have a similar blueprint underneath surface detail differences.
Having now read two books by Tracy I do feel you can tell this book was written more in the Edwardian mystery style, as opposed to the more traditional 1920s style of golden age detective fiction. This is most strongly seen in the cast of suspects, which in Tracy’s books is rather small and there is less of a focus on collecting lots of data (e.g. alibis, clues etc.). Equally I think Tracy limits the avenues of investigation for Furneaux and Winter, in ways I think golden age detective fiction writers wouldn’t, who alternatively would use such additional avenues of investigations as red herrings. I would go so far to say that Furneaux and Winter’s have to use more psychological tactics to confirm the killer’s guilt as material evidence is not sufficient. I would be really interested in hearing about other people’s experiences with Louis Tracy’s work and whether other stories branch out from the mould presented in these two.