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Publisher's Summary

From a murder in South Africa to the tracking down of a master criminal in northern Scotland, this is a true classic of Golden Age detective fiction by one of its most accomplished champions.

When a signalman discovers a mutilated body inside a railway tunnel near Groote Park, it seems to be a straightforward case of a man struck by a passing train. But Inspector Vandam of the Middeldorp police isn’t satisfied that Albert Smith’s death was accidental, and he sets out to prove foul play in a baffling mystery which crosses continents from deepest South Africa to the wilds of northern Scotland, where an almost identical crime appears to have been perpetrated.

The Groote Park Murder was the last of Freeman Wills Crofts’ stand-alone crime novels, foreshadowing his iconic Inspector French series and helping to cement his reputation (according to his publishers) as ‘the greatest and most popular detective writer in the world’. Like The Cask, The Ponson Case and The Pit-Prop Syndicate before it, here were a delightfully ingenious plot, impeccable handling of detail and an overwhelming surprise ‘curtain’ from a masterful crime writer on the cusp of global success.

This Detective Club classic is introduced with an essay by Freeman Wills Crofts, unseen since 1937, about The Writing of a Detective Novel.

©2019 Freeman Wills Crofts (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Groote Park Murder

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The Soundest Builder of Them All

This is really two books. The first, “South Africa”, is workmanlike and straightforward. There's no real character development. There’s no witty banter between the detective and his trusty sidekick (there’s no trusty sidekick, either). No amusing ancillary characters (like Tommy and Tuppence’s office boy, Albert). There isn’t even a picturesque description of a city or countryside. No, in this first part, Freeman Wills Crofts lives up to his reputation as a founder of the “police procedural” school of crime writing or, what Julian Symons rather unkindly called, “the humdrum school”.

In the second half, entitled “Scotland”, everything changes. We get yards of bucolic description; characters interact more deeply; there are even occasional flashes of humor. A new, more inventive detective takes up the trail, and while he follows procedures too, we also get a cliffhanger, life-and-death rescue. Are some plot turns predictable? One or two, certainly. A stock phrase that P. G. Wodehouse made fun of, the heroine’s anguished, “Oh, if I had only known!” makes its appearance too, though it’s spoken by a man. And yet I kept listening.

Why? The story. As Raymond Chandler wrote, Crofts was “the soundest builder of them all”. Chandler’s addendum, “when he doesn’t get too fancy” really doesn’t apply here; admittedly, there are more train timetables than is convenient in an audiobook, but that’s not Crofts’ fault; he was writing for readers who could flip back a couple of pages. I just enjoyed the story. And, if humor really isn’t there, the two other things for which we turn to Golden Age detective fiction are: a terrific surprise (at least to me) ending, and the pleasure of seeing justice done. And Crawford Logan is about as spot-on perfect as Gordon Griffin.

5 people found this helpful

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ENJOYABLE

The plot moves along briskly, covering surprisingly considerable geography. The characters are English or how the author saw them; not very real even when supposedly unadorned and typical. But it's an interesting mystery and the author has taken care to play fair and still provide an enjoyable tale.

2 people found this helpful

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Classic mystery.

The story keeps the reader guessing to the end. A cerebral mystery with elegant prose.

2 people found this helpful

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a great intrigue

great plot, well written and well narrated. I had some issues with the subtle racism displayed in its pages. however this is a product of its time and setting and is an accurate display of the culture in that time and place.
this story leads you on a chase from south Africa to the highlands of Scotland.

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Story is Very Dated and Boring with it.

A police procedural with no procedure. The book should have been half its length to hold any interest whatsoever. I'm surprised that the author was ever compared to P.D. James, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie or John LaCarre. How insulting for these worthy authors.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs. J. E. Hingley
  • 05-01-20

Skilful

With all its twists and turns, this story was skilfully written. I would never have guessed who dunnit. But I couldn't remember who the murderer was in the story but the outcome was good.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Arnfinn Rong
  • 11-06-19

Great reader of a wonderfully great crime classic

A much better reader than Gordon Griffin (who shouts in whispers to be dramatic, and only succeeds in being annoying). A very good book by Freeman Wills Crofts.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ruth
  • 11-07-20

Entertaining listening

I took a chance on this audio book, as I had not come across the author before.
It was a really enjoyable listen. lots of twists and turns, which kept me guessing right until the end. I shall certainly try others in the series.

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  • Kevin Viney
  • 08-26-20

Excellent whodunnit

Started slowly but builds to a tremendous conclusion.
Read and enjoy - once you get into it you cant put it down so to speak

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  • Kl Love
  • 06-05-20

One of the best detective stories I've come across

As an afficionado of the classic crime novel, I've seen most of the variants on plot; but this one kept me intrigued, and the twist at the end really did take me by surprise. Having the book set in two very different locations gives it a freshness and variety, and while it is certainly a product of its time (the characters are rather old-fashioned) this gives it a charm of its own: people 'dismount from' their cars, and 'stable' them when not in use, and there are many other little indications of the manners and usages of a bygone era.

The narrator is very pleasant to listen to, and manages to give the various characters, including minor characters, an audible identity.

I found this one of the most absorbing and satisfying crime novels I've listened to for a long time. Very enjoyable!