Inspector John Crow of the Murder Squad at Scotland Yard finds himself the pressure point of influence. An American mining company owner uses his pull with the British government to get Crow assigned to a case – the murder of his environmental officer at a major project in Dartmoor. Crow isn’t pleased, and he knows the local police won’t be pleased, either.
It’s a strange case. The victim was found in the project’s tailings pond, a site accessible generally only to those familiar with the property and the project. Unfortunately for Crow, that turns out to be a long list of people, including contractors, sub-contractors, and delivery trucks.
Worse for Crow, he can’t get his head around the personality of the victim and what the man was working on before he died. Drilling practices? Disputes with the local bigwig landowner? Delivery schedules? The man was a widower, living quietly, who kept an extraordinarily neat home and office. He generally kept to himself and wasn’t particularly close to anyone at the mining project or in the local village where he lived.
Crow is right about the local police; they’re not happy, but they’re putting up with his presence and that of the officer helping him. They have their own frustrations, including the death of a teenaged girl in a hit-and-run accident that looks like it may go unsolved. The village isn’t pleased with the prospect of more tuck traffic because of the mining project. And Crow’s physical appearance – tall, thin, hawklike nose and a bald dome head, is often as off-putting as the questions he asks and the observations he makes.
A Dartmoor Murder is the eighth and final Inspector John Crow mystery by British author Roy Lewis. It’s a fine mystery, filled with the details of village life in Dartmoor and some of the intricacies of the mining industry. And it will have a twist within a twist, as Crow’s assisting officer comes up with the right motive but the wrong suspect.
Lewis is the author of some 60 other mysteries, novels, and short story collections. His Inspector Crow series includes A Lover Too Many, Murder in the Mine, The Woods Murder, Error of Judgment, and Murder for Money, among others. The Eric Ward series, of which The Sedleigh Hall Murder is the first (and originally published as A Certain Blindness in 1981), includes 17 novels. The Arnold Landon series is comprised of 22 novels. Lewis lives in northern England.
Crow is the kind of protagonist that grows quietly on the reader through several novels. In many ways, it’s a shame to see that A Dartmoor Murder is the last of the Crow stories. But it is a well-written, entertaining series, and this last book doesn’t disappoint.