ANYTHING TO DECLARE? by Freeman Willis
House of Stratus – 2001
ISBN 1842323822 - Paperback
Police / Detective - British
Reviewed by Rachel
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House of Stratus is an exciting new name in British publishing. They combine all the virtues of a traditional printed book with modern technology with their print-on-demand books. For the price of an ordinary paperback you can choose from an ever-growing list of classic names like Kipling and Monserrat, out-of-print favorites like Rafael Sabatini, Norah Lofts and Edgar Wallace and newer names like Sam Llewellyn, Dudley Pope and Claire Raynor. They are handsome large-format volumes and flop open for easy reading.
Anything to Declare is one of a large number of classic detective novels from the Golden Age of the genre that they reprint. Written in the late 1940s it tells the story of what seems like the perfect scam as a group of bored young men use their boat ostensibly for taking passengers on cruises up the Rhine when in fact they are smuggling Swiss watches. It all turns ugly when they find themselves being blackmailed and murder follows not long after. It is up to Inspector Joseph French to unravel the mystery and this he does with his usual dogged determination.
Crofts manages to tell his tale rapidly and simply with no pauses for repetition. It could be argued that he does this at the expense of examining the personalities of his characters too minutely but if (like myself) you find that a lot of modern detective novels do this to the point of sacrificing plot for characters then you will find this very refreshing indeed. This book is sure to appeal to all those who feel starved of the qualities that made up the detective fiction of this era so dive in and enjoy!
More House of Stratus novels to be reviewed on this site soon including Cyril Hare, Edgar Wallace, Michael Innes and Rafael Sabatini.
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