The Crooked Straight by Ernest Dudley

A case literally up in smokes…

Private Detective Nat Craig has been working with The Globe for quite some time.

In return for telling him about cases, he sneaks about the crime scene and tells them the kind of information that only a policeman would know.

It’s win-win for everyone.

Recently, a fire occurred at a derelict factory in Shoreditch.

Though Scotland Yard has been hush-hush, Craig’s sure there’s a whiff of arson about them.

But just as he’s about to investigate, the Globe has a new and urgent case for him.

A girl, Lucy Evans, has been found murdered at a flat on Maida Vale. Strangled in her own room.

According to neighbours, they’d heard someone come over – a boyfriend perhaps. There was an argument and he left.

Clearly, whoever this man was, he must have been the murderer.

As expected, Inspector Marraby is being silent on the matter – even if he does tolerate Craig’s presence at the crime scene.

However, they find a note written by Lucy, in which it suggests that she was blackmailing the man into marrying her.

But who was the man – the likely murderer?

The only other clue is a coat button. To Craig, it seems strangely familiar.

Then he remembers that one Jeffery Brooks had a missing button on his coat.

He and his secretary Simone had met Mr. Brooks at Café Rouge, the night before his marriage to Helen March and the murder of Lucy Evans.

They seemed a doting couple – although when Mr. Brooks had to leave early, Helen had seemed very worried…

Even if he hadn’t murdered Lucy Evans, what had he been doing at her flat? Or was the button just coincidence?

Meanwhile, the spate of factories been burnt down hasn’t stopped. And Craig figures it’s nothing but an insurance scam.

After all, they seem to all have the same insurance company. And who should work for that same company but Jeff Brooks…

It seems both cases run deeper than Craig has ever imagined.

The Crooked Straight is thrilling mystery novel, full of twist and unexpected turns.

Ernest Dudley ran away from home at seventeen to become an actor in a Shakespearean troop, where he would later meet his future wife on the set of Peter Pan. Dudley then turned his attention to writing, first as a journalist, then as a writer for radio, television and film, before embarking on historical and detective novel writing. He was a founding member of the Crime Writers Association, and a marathon runner well into old age.

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