The Five Matchboxes Book Review

The Five Matchboxes Book Review

Title: The Five Matchboxes
Author: John Russell Fearn
Published: June 17, 2016, Endeavor Press
No. of Pages: 376
Cover Price: $3.99 Kindle

Inspector Garth of Scotland Yard has a puzzling mystery on his hands in John Russell’s Fearn’s novel, The Five Matchboxes. A letter was delivered to the police warning them that Granville Collins was to be shot to death in his office between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. this morning. Garth stations his men everywhere so that they won’t miss any suspicious characters, but after the time has passed, he and his men check Collins’ office and find him there, dead of a gunshot wound. How did Collins get shot right under the noses of the police? While processing the scene, there are five matchboxes, each containing a small hole, which is also puzzling. A full- blown investigation opens old wounds, and points to a 15-year-old murder, as well as a blackmail scheme with several suspects who had reason to kill Collins.

Fearn is an accomplished writer, and is able to tell the story without giving out too many clues until the end. The story starts when Collins is angry at his 12-year-old son, Derek, and berates him with a raised voice so that his wife can clearly hear the conversation. That is where the suspense starts to build, and as Collins is found dead later that morning, it continues to build, especially when it looks like Collins’ death in his office is impossible since no one was around at the time of death.

The setting for this novel is in England, around the late 1940s, and it’s fascinating to see how Garth solves the murder with the tools that were available at that time. Of course, there is a kind of charm when the verbiage is decidedly English; their unique names for common things are different from those used in the US (like the hood of a car called a bonnet in the UK). British detectives do things differently, too, so that adds a bit of fun to the story.

Since there is no graphic violence, sex, or language in this novel which was first published in 1948, it is suitable for all ages of readers who like suspense. It is fairly fast-moving, the characters are interesting, and the plot is surprising at the end.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this novel.

This book may be purchased at Amazon:
The Five Matchboxes (Linford Mystery Library)

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