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The Pit Prop Syndicate

Freeman Wills Crofts

Book Overview: 

Seymour Merriman stops at the side of the road 26 miles outside Bordeaux, an action that will change his life forever. The events that follow lead him into mystery, smuggling, murder and love. Two amateur detectives try to unravel the mystery of changing number plates, and everything else that surrounds the pit prop syndicate, before the case is handed over to Inspector Willis of Scotland Yard.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .They wear more evenly, I understand. I'm trying to persuade the Paris authorities to try a piece of it, and if that does well it might develop into a big thing. Indeed, I can imagine our giving up the pit-props altogether in the future."

After a time Miss Coburn joined them, and, the Ford car being brought out, the party set off on their excursion. They visited a part of the wood where the trees were larger than near the sawmill, and had a pleasant though uneventful afternoon. The evening they spent as before at the Coburns' house.

Next day the friends invited their hosts to join them in a trip up the river. Hilliard tactfully interested the manager in the various "gadgets" he had fitted up in the launch, and Merriman's dream of making tea with Miss Coburn materialized. The more he saw of the gentle, brown-eyed girl, the more he found his heart going out to her, and the more it was borne in on him that life without her was becoming a prospect more t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though it was probably a bit too long. I have given it four stars but I suspect that others who are not quite as fond of F.W.C.'s work as I am would maybe have found it a bit pedantic or even boring.

The reader shares every thought, suspicion, idea a...more

I love these old books. The language, pace and insight to domestic life in the 1920s is a joy. Modern writers cannot evoke the same authenticity, even with the best research. This is a solid detective story, set between England and France, over a period of a few months. Investigations in the 1920...more

Enjoyed this old fashioned mystery. I read some by this author almost 50 years ago. Workmanlike writer. Nothing fancy but so,I’d.

This could've been a doozy: Possible smuggling ring based in France getting away with highly elaborate and cunning plan gets busted by amateur sleuths on holiday before handing over the boys at the Yard to tie up the case. Chuck in a love interest, loads of maps, a murder and the fact two of the...more

Thoroughly enjoyable read. Held my interest from page 1 till the end.

Vastly Satisfying

Engaging story line and lively interesting characters. Enjoyed the whole book. Descriptions of the characters and scenery were greatly detailed.

A Very English Mystery

Complex and detailed, this book is typical of the 1920s era of murder mysteries. It takes concentration to stay with the plot, but it's worth it.

Aside from the too-quick falling in love that it shares with many other mystery stories I've read lately, this was a finely-crafted mystery. A better knowledge of boating terms would have helped my understanding of some details, but generally I enjoyed this book.

This story became tedious in parts as if the author had no confidence in the reader's ability to reach the correct conclusions. He explained thoughts that were plainly gleaned. The mystery was interesting and the denouement was satisfactory.

In part, good classic crime fiction. The nature of the crime is original, and the detection of clues well done. The time setting of the story - early 1920s - creates period interest.

The story is in two halves: first two amateurs try to find the nature of the crime, and evidence for it...more

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