It’s 1945, and London is in blackout during the period of the Blitz. Nevertheless, Bruce Malling is out for a stroll in Regent’s Park. He is sitting quietly on a bench near a footbridge when he sees a man pop over the railing and hide under the bridge. A few minutes later, another man strolls onto the bridge, calling out to ask if anyone is there. By the brief flicker of matchlight as the man lights his cigarette, Bruce sees another face above his. Then he hears a thud. Bruce runs up to find the man dead and then catches the other man as he comes up from under the bridge and tries to run away.
A police constable arrives on the scene as does a doctor, who pronounces the man dead. His ID identifies him as John Ward, but when Inspector MacDonald inquires about him, he can find no one who knows anything about him except that he was Irish, was charming, and had no visible means of support. Inquiries at his previous residence then reveal that he was not John Ward at all.
This novel is full of colorful characters that MacDonald meets at the victim’s boarding house. It is an interesting puzzle with lots of secrets. Being part Irish myself, I didn’t appreciate the aspersions cast on them in one passage, but otherwise I enjoyed this mystery.
I received a copy of this novel from the publishers in exchange for a free and fair review.