This married writing team were completely new to me when I came across this book during my last trip to London. Yet it seems Edwin and Mona Radford were quite a prolific pair, writing 38 detective novels ranging from 1944 to 1972. They also edited the Encyclopaedia of Superstitions and even wrote on folk lore and the origins of words and phrases. Mona also wrote poetry as well as work for the stage, whilst Edwin was a journalist and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Based on today’s read I think the Radfords will be two authors I will be keeping my eyes peeled for. From Information Received has an unusual premise, though perhaps not wholly original. Yet you can still see remnants of it in films such as Ocean’s 8. The story focuses on three groups of men, one group is a trio involved in burglaries, another is a pair of less than honest owners of an architectural firm and the last is a pair of property investors, keen to make a deal on their aunt’s home. Into their lives creeps an unknown enemy who seems to have far too much information about what they are up to, revealing very detailed material which no one else could have known about. Money is inevitability exchanged. The story resides mostly with the burglars, who have much more to lose, which of course pushes them into violent response with each other and against their unknown foe. Scotland Yard eventually get an opening into these cases, though of course they have far fewer pieces of the puzzle than the reader has. What is worrying them the most though is whether they can bring any charges to stick on these unknown culprits, as whilst their behaviour is unethical, it might not be illegal, though of course the police hope they will overreach themselves and commit an actionable crime. As my film allusion indicates our unknown criminal masterminds are all women. This is not a spoiler as there are very early and explicit indications of this for the reader in the opening chapters.
This is no whodunit nor is it completely an inverted mystery. The main source of mystery in this tale is how the women are gaining access to this highly confidential information, it almost becomes a form of impossibility in the crime. There is also the mystery of how the police are going to be able to make an arrest, as our criminals’ tracks are very well covered. These women very much remain on the periphery of this tale, they are not characters we get up to close, at least not until the end, so the main focus is very much on the victims and the police. The final solution is clever, but lacked a little oomph, as did the ending as a whole which had a bit of a sanctimonious twang to it. Otherwise it was a very enjoyable and fast paced plot, which definitely kept my interest and it was nice to read a mystery story which has a more intricate crime than an individual murder.
Just the Facts Ma’am (Silver Card): Crime Solving Duo