Second John Madden. Kept me turning pages long into the night.
This novel is part of the John Madden mystery series. I have read her earlier book River of Darkness. Madden has left Scotland Yard to live the life of a farmer, and his wife Helen guards him from police work as much as she can. The year is 1932, and coming home one day, John and Helen drive through a nearby village where they can see something is happening. They stop to see if they can be of assistance, and find the village is searching for a missing girl. John joins in the search and is the one to discover the body. When another body is found, Scotland Yard is called in, and Madden is drawn into the case despite Helen's protection.
Evidence leads to the discovery of similar cases on the Continent and the search is on for a cold-blooded man fixated on young girls. This story involves many elements. The lives of tramps, on the road for a variety of reasons. Economic straits of the Great Depression causing many to lose their homes and scramble to find work to support their families. Men who survived the war, but never really recovered from it, living with what we would now call PTSD. The trend by those in charge to protect their own, and believe the end justifies the means. The growing political situation in Europe with the rise of the Nazis. All this makes for a great story that is more than just a good mystery.
I am new to Rennie Airth's writing and found it confusing and not well edited. I had a hard time figuring out who the main character was. Some scenes had multiple points of view which is not usually done. Also, the "good" guys were really good and the "bad" guy was really horrid. The attempts at explaining criminal psychology were lame and the understanding of early 20th century psychiatry was incorrect.
For the second time that we catch up with John Madden we find him retired and living the country life with his charming doctor wife. He is now involved in the case of a child murder at a time when he is raising his own children. Soon he becomes embroiled in a case that is so baffling that he needs to go back to the beginning to find the killer.
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