Thursday, March 26, 2009

Inspector West Regrets: John Creasey

Anthony Kelham, son of shady financier Andrew, is found murdered in his father’s library. Was the son killed accidentally; was the father the real target?

The senior Kelham’s secretary Blair is fiercely loyal to his employer though his father was apparently ruined by the financier. So did the ‘butler’ do it in revenge?

Griselda Fayne, Anthony’s now-off now-on girlfriend was off at that stage. And she had attempted to shoot Anthony before. So is she the real culprit?

The plump Mr. Alexander looms as a mysterious figure for Andrew Kelham, Griselda Fayne and Inspector West himself (not to mention his wife and infant son). What is his role in the murder? And did he commit the follow-up murders to cover his tracks?

Andrew’s wife seems to be so seriously ill that she can’t even be told of her husband’s accident, let alone her son’s murder. Where does this figure in the picture?

These and more questions are what Chief Inspector West and his New Scotland Yard colleagues answer in Inspector West Regrets.

A complete compendium of John Creasey’s works perhaps does not even exist (he apparently wrote more than 600 books under multiple pseudonyms), but it can be said with some certainty that Chief Inspector / Superintendent West was one of his more significant series, with more than 60 titles featuring Roger West. And while there is a certain aura that seems to justify the characters of the Baron and the Toff, the success of West is perhaps the most surprising, considering he is but a regular cop, the rather superfluous tag ‘Handsome’ notwithstanding. Regrets is another example of this role of West. Yes, he faces some dangers, yes he is courageous and relentless, but when you realise on closer inspection that many of the breakthroughs in the case are not quite West’s doing (except getting kidnapped perhaps), you wonder what makes him the hero. Of this book and more than 60 others.

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