'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Crime Fiction Alphabet

 This weeks letter is F

One vintage crime/mystery writer that I am looking forward to reading soon is...

Freeman Wills Croft
was born in 1879 in Dublin Ireland and one of the 'Big Four' of Golden Age of Detective Fiction. His father was a surgeon in the Army and died of fever in Honduras before Freeman was born. His mother remarried a Vicar and Freeman was brought up in the vicarage. He married in 1912, the couple had no children. He was also an engineer and apprenticed with his uncle who was chief engineer at Belfast and Northern Counties Railway. After holding many positions in railway engineering he became Chief Assistant Engineer. It was during long absence from work due to illness that he wrote his first novel 'The Cask' in 1920. It was an international success and followed by more than 30 novels, most of which featured the meticulous Inspector French of Scotland Yard.
Crofts became an early member of the legendary Detection Club in London along with Agatha Christie. He wrote many plays for the BBC, short stories, a religious book and a number of true crime stories. He was known for his tight plots and scrupulous attention to detail. His work set new standards for the genre. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1939. In retirement he continued to write, pursue music and carpentry and enjoyed gardening and traveling. He died in Worthington, West Sussex, UK at the age of 77 in 1957.

I have The Pit Prop Syndicate and The 12:30 From Croydon that I will be reading soon. So watch for future reviews from this author.

Here is a list of his complete works (via Langtail Press) the titles with links are available for purchase from Langtail Press

Mystery novels

The Cask (1920)
The Ponson Case (1921)
The Pit-Prop Syndicate (1922)
The Groote Park Murder (1923)
Inspector French's Greatest Case (1924)
Inspector French and the Cheyne Mystery (1926) aka The Cheyne Mystery
Inspector French and the Starvel Tragedy (1927) aka The Starvel Hollow Tragedy
The Sea Mystery (1928)
The Box Office Murders (1929) aka The Purple Sickle Murders
Sir John Magill's Last Journey (1930)
Mystery in the Channel (1931) aka Mystery in the English Channel
Sudden Death (1932)
Death on the Way (1932) aka Double Death
The Hog's Back Mystery (1933) aka The Strange Case of Dr. Earle
The 12:30 from Croydon (1934) aka Wilful and Premeditated
Mystery on Southampton Water (1934) aka Crime on the Solent
Crime at Guildford (1935) aka The Crime at Nornes
The Loss of the Jane Vosper (1936)
Man Overboard! (1936) aka Cold-Blooded Murder
Found Floating (1937)
The End of Andrew Harrison (1938) aka The Futile Alibi
Antidote to Venom (1938)
Fatal Venture (1939) aka Tragedy in the Hollow
Golden Ashes (1940)
James Tarrant, Adventurer (1941) aka Circumstantial Evidence
The Losing Game (1941) aka A Losing Game
Fear Comes to Chalfont (1942)
The Affair at Little Wokeham (1943) aka Double Tragedy
Enemy Unseen (1945)
Death of a Train (1946)
Silence for the Murderer (1949)
French Strikes Oil (1951) aka Dark Journey
Anything to Declare? (1957)

Short Story Collections
Murderers Make Mistakes (1947)
Many a Slip (1955)
Mystery of the Sleeping Car Express and Other Stories (1956)

The Pit Prop Syndicate is available free from Project Gutenberg

Links to good reviews from Katrina over at Pining for the West...
The 12:30 From Croydon
The Pit Prop Syndicate 
The Groote Park Murder

This post is linked to Mysteries in Paradise Crime Alphabet Fiction


  1. Why haven't I heard of this writer before? Sounds like he writes some fantastic stories.

    1. His books are mostly out of print, Clarissa. Only the few reprinted by Langtail. Have to order used online or find at a used bookstore. Bev @My Readers Block first introduced me to him and Katrina's reviews have gotten me really interested in reading him

  2. I've read a few of his books in the past. They're interesting and quite engrossing if you're prepared to be patient. Lots of detail, unbreakable alibis to be painstakingly broken etc. Readers had more time when these were being published!

  3. I have heard of this author but did not know much about him. I checked out one of the reviews at Pining for the West and it is an inverted mystery, which I have been trying to find for a challenge. Thanks for featuring this author. I hope you enjoy the books.

    1. I got a like new copy of The 12:30 From Croydon online Tracy. It will be my first inverted mystery!

  4. Peggy - What a great choice for F! I like the background information too. I always like learning about the lives of some of the great Golden Age authors, and you've reminded me that I need to re-introduce myself to his work.

    1. Thanks Margot. I'm glad others enjoy all the little background facts too!

  5. Hi Peggy,

    Great post about an author which I am ashamed to say, I have never come across before.

    From the synopses I have discovered that there is a definite Agatha Christie likeness in his writing, which is a good enough reason in itself to read this classic series of detective stories.

    Most of the books still seem to be available from the mainstream sites such as Amazon, however they hugely and prohibitively expensive.

    If you check out this link, you will see that the books appear to have been reprinted at some stage and I just love the look of all those 'nouveau' covers together. I think that I shall be searching out some of the more elderly editions to start me off with though.


    A lovely post, thank you.


    1. I do love the 'Nouveau' covers! My edition of the 12:30 from Croydon is one of them!

  6. Thanks for introducing us to another golden age giant. Your post mentioned that Croft is considered to be one of the Big Four. Who are the other three?

    1. From what I can find, neer, Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr and Ellery Queen are considered the 'Big Three'. But there are so many that should be on the top it's hard to pick!

    2. Thanks for replying. I had no idea that Queen was considered so Big. I'll have to look for his books.

  7. Thanks for the great intro on Croft. I had never heard of him but there are some great titles in there. It's a shame that the books are mostly out of print. I'll have to keep an eye out when I go book hunting next time.

  8. Hi Peggy

    Finally read a Crofts. Here's my review:


  9. I used to be able to find good advice from your blog posts.
    Stop by my page ... clean my pc


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