That’s right! In January 2020 I shall be turning my eye upon The Box Office Murders, a.k.a. The Purple Sickle Murders (1929) by Freeman Wills Crofts, an author for whom I have developed a deep affinity in recent years. Even more excitingly, joining me for this elbows-deep examination will be none other than Curtis Evans himself, the man who literally wrote the book on Crofts and obviously knows his way around both the man’s work and the context in which it was written.
The Box Office Murders was one of the Crofts novels recently republished by Harper Collins with their ‘Inspector French and…’ prefix added to the title, in the gorgeous middle cover of the image above, and their summary of the plot runs thus:
The suicide of a sales clerk at the box office of a London cinema leaves another girl in fear for her life. Persuaded to seek help from Scotland Yard, Miss Darke confides in Inspector Joseph French about a gambling scam by a mysterious trio of crooks and that she believes her friend was murdered. When the girl fails to turn up the next day, and the police later find her body, French’s inquiries reveal that similar girls have also been murdered, all linked by their jobs and by a sinister stranger with a purple scar…
So, has Joseph French met his match? Of course not, what a silly question, but given Crofts’ tendency — in this early part of his career, at least — to never repeat the same style of book, it’ll be interesting to see how he acquits himself to what sounds like a multiple-murderer plot while working in and around his previous focus on rigour and taking pains.