It’s an exciting sports event. The Arsenal football team – the top-rated professional team in the U.K. – is playing an exhibition match against the Trojans, the top-rated amateur football team. Right after the second half of play begins, a Trojan player collapses on the field. Taken inside the treatment room, he is shortly pronounced dead. It turns out that he was poisoned by an alkaloid poison related to nicotine; a pinprick is discovered on his hand.
Chief Inspector Anthony Slade of Scotland Yard is called in. As he investigates, all of the evidence points increasingly to one of the Trojan players as the murderer, the victim’s partner in the insurance business who fiancé was being wooed by the dead man. And the evidence systematically is piling up. While everyone else is convinced of the murderer’s identity, Slade is suspicious; the evidence is just a bit too obvious and looks more orchestrated than real. He goes deeper into the lives and backgrounds of all the people concerned and discovers motives buried in the distant past.
The Arsenal Stadium Mystery by Leonard Gribble (1908-1985) was first published in 1939, and it was notable for a number of reasons. It actually featured the manager and players of the Arsenal football (soccer) club that year. It was serialized in a newspaper before being published as book. And it helped to publicize a movie based on the story released that same year. It’s been republished as part of the British Library’s Crime Classics series.
The author of some 77 books of mystery and suspense, Gribble also wrote under the pen names of Sterry Browning, James Garnett, Leo Grex, Louis Grey, Piers Marlowe, Dexter Muir, and Bruce Sanders. Most of the books were under his own name and starred Inspector (later Superintendent) Anthony Slade. He was also a founding member of the Crime Writers Association in 1953.
The Arsenal Stadium Mystery is one of the classics of the Golden Age of Mystery (1920-1940) and should be appealing to sports fans and mystery lovers alike.