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Publisher's Summary

A small boy playing in the park is handed a crumpled piece of paper by a stranger, who then collapses and dies. The boy, realising that he himself is now in danger, flees from the park with the help of detective Nigel Strangeways, only to discover that the mysterious message consists of just his own name and age: Bert Hale 12.Bert and his young friends are confident that they can crack the case but they soon discover that they will need the help of not just Nigel Strangeways, but of the whole British government...

Nicholas Blake was the pseudonym of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, who was born in County Laois, Ireland in 1904. After his mother died in 1906, he was brought up in London by his father, spending summer holidays with relatives in Wexford. He was educated at Sherborne School and Wadham College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1927. Blake initially worked as a teacher to supplement his income from his poetry writing and he published his first Nigel Strangeways novel, A Question of Proof, in 1935. Blake went on to write a further nineteen crime novels, all but four of which featured Nigel Strangeways, as well as numerous poetry collections and translations. During the Second World War he worked as a publications editor in the Ministry of Information, which he used as the basis for the Ministry of Morale in Minute for Murder, and after the war he joined the publishers Chatto & Windus as an editor and director. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1968 and died in 1972 at the home of his friend, the writer Kingsley Amis.

©1969 Cecil Day-Lewis (P)2013 Audible Ltd

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An OK Nigel Strangeways book.

I've read a few of the books in this series (written from the 1930s through the 1960s). This is a book from the 1950s, and it shows in the setting. Cold War tensions are behind a plot to kill a Soviet representative making a visit to Great Britain. Several young boys become involved after the first chapter murder of figure tangentially related to the plot and the passing of a bizarre message. You need to put yourself in the right frame of mind to enjoy this mid-century British mystery/suspense novel. You need to accept the cozy relationship an amateur detective has with the real police and intelligence services, but the class system makes this somewhat plausible. It will take considerably more to swallow the eventual explanation of the message and the degree of coincidence that involved the young lad in the plot.

The narration was well done, and the book was much as I had anticipated having read numerous books of this type, some by Nicholas Blake, others by similar authors. This is probably a bit below average Strangeways book. It's not much in tune with today's mystery suspense readers, but if you like the 20th century Golden Age type mystery, this fits the bill.