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CLASSIC CRIME

Popular images of rural France are of bucolic contentment with good food and wine

Popular images of rural France are of bucolic contentment with good food and wine

THE MAN WHO DIDN’T BURN 

by Ian Moore (Duckworth £14.99, 288 pp)

Popular images of rural France are of bucolic contentment with good food and wine. But, when it comes to life in the Loire, Ian Moore gives us the darker side with the savage murder of an English expat that bears all the marks of a homage to the martyred St Joan.

Leading the investigation is Matthieu Lombard, an examining magistrate who is haunted by his own demons. Mourning an adored wife is made harder by the suspicion that she was leading a double love life.

Coping with an uneasy relationship with the police, local politicians and fellow lawyers, Lombard sticks doggedly to a case that threatens to tear apart a close-knit community. As more deaths follow, the solution remains tantalisingly out of reach.

With more twists and turns than a backwoods farm track, Moore has made a blistering start to what is near certain to be a long-running series.

Could it have happened here? A question often posed after the war when there was speculation as to how Britain would have coped under German occupation

Could it have happened here? A question often posed after the war when there was speculation as to how Britain would have coped under German occupation

SS-GB

by Len Deighton (Penguin Classics £9.99, 464 pp)

Could it have happened here? A question often posed after the war when there was speculation as to how Britain would have coped under German occupation. For Len Deighton, the answer was this ingenious and disturbing novel of a Scotland Yard detective who has to reconcile his professional duty with the need to keep on the right side of his Nazi overlords.

Complications multiply for Detective Inspector Archer when he finds himself caught up in rivalry between the military and the SS for the top job at the Yard while his closest associate is involved in a resistance plot to smuggle the King out of the country.

To cap it all, Archer is in charge of investigating a mysterious death caused by radiation. A mega bomb is in the making.

Deighton keeps us guessing as, balancing justice with expediency, Archer struggles against forces he barely understands. Could it really have happened here? Never doubt it.

A master of the locked room mystery, John Dickson Carr reckoned this to be one of his best efforts. He was not far wrong

A master of the locked room mystery, John Dickson Carr reckoned this to be one of his best efforts. He was not far wrong

HE WHO WHISPERS 

by John Dickson Carr (British Library Crime Classics £9.99, 272 pp)

A master of the locked room mystery, John Dickson Carr reckoned this to be one of his best efforts. He was not far wrong. The plot hinges on the violent death in the top room of a stone tower to which no one, apart from the deceased, had access.

Fuelled by superstition, the consensus hints at a murderer with the paranormal power to enter the tower without use of the stairs.

But murder by supernatural means does not impress Dr Gideon Fell, whose wheezing obesity belies an intellect capable of explaining the apparently inexplicable.

Carr mixes in more than a pinch of Gothic horror with storm-lashed battlements, talk of vampires on the loose and a wild-eyed woman who gives every sign of having arrived on a broomstick. But, as the web of lies and subterfuge unravels, we can only marvel at the skill of a great storyteller.



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