Thursday, March 30, 2017

"Richardson Scores Again" by Basil Thomson

Constable Richardson did such an outstanding job with his first case and he was promoted to Sergeant. He had caught the notice of the higher-ups in London’s Metropolitan Police that he was promoted over several others who had been waiting far longer. Beneficially for Richardson (who, apparently, has no first name), none of his colleagues seem to hold a grudge; Richardson is as charming as he is self-effacing.

A murder occurs in Hampstead; a maid is shot and killed one night during a burglary. Richardson and his boss are drawn into the investigation. But there are too many odd things connected to it, including what looks like an attempt to frame or implicate a young naval officer whose uncle owns the home where the maid was employed.

And then it becomes even murkier. What possible connection could there be between a murder case in suburban north London, a chicken farm near Hampstead, a rising young member of Parliament taking ill during a speech, a society to help ex-convicts find work, and even a missing parrot? But Richardson (assisted by his boss and a lawyer for the naval officer) is on the case, and sees connections where his colleagues see nothing.

Basil Thomson
First published in 1934 during the Golden Age of Mystery, Richardson Scores Again by Basil Thomson (1861-1939) is one complex, intricately plotted mystery novel. Thomson had a wide-ranging background in everything from diplomatic service and prison management to police department leadership (you can read the details of Thomson’s life in my review of the first Inspector Richardson novel, Richardson’s First Case.)

Thomson was a prolific writer, and the eight Inspector Richardson novels were written in the last decade of his life. They’re the story of the meteoric rise of an ambitious young policeman, who relies on deduction and scientific evidence (he even carries an attaché case with him that contains fingerprinting inks and cards, plaster for making models of footprints, and other  tools considered standard today).

Richardson Scores Again is a fine (and fun) example of the classic police procedural written during the height of the Golden Age for mystery and detective novels. And you can be assured that Richardson will get his man.


Top photograph: Charing Cross Road in London in the 1930s. The street plays a role in Richardson Scores Again.

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