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The Cask

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  183 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Paris. Shipping business, police techniques, investigative procedures, feature in this alibi puzzle plot.
Published 2001 by House of Stratus (first published 1920)
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Aug 06, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
Freeman Wills Crofts (1879-1957) was one of the most successful of the crime writers from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, writing a book almost every year during his writing career. He was a member of the Detection Club, alongside Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers and became a full time writer in 1929. The Cask was his first ever novel, written in 1920 when he found himself off work with a long illness. Although it was written a long time ago (even for a Golden Age novel, it is one of th ...more
May 19, 2014 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a very competent detective novel. If I had put on my anorak and hunted out contemporary train timetables and street maps the chronology and geography would have been faultless. The two detectives are painstaking in their investigation, then stop when they are satisfied that they have the culprit and sufficient evidence for a conviction. The private detective also investigates to give the accused the best chance of a defence in court. Everybody does their job.
The only problem
Mar 13, 2011 Sloweducation rated it liked it
Charmingly tedious mystery goes in for every Golden Age cliche. The sheer amount of deduction is altogether impressive, but the book is weighed down by the fact that it is mostly very uninteresting. This is my first Crofts, and apparently his trademark is the laboriously described railway timetable. No character is more than sketched. There is constant exposition, but none of it pertains to psychology in the least. A quite silly book by any measure, which could do with a hundred pages less, and ...more
May 13, 2017 MrsRK rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
If Mr. Crofts other books are like this one, I don't think I want to read them. While well written, the book is sterile, reads like a diary almost. All--and I mean ALL--the actions are minutely described. Some characters who appeared at the beginning of the story, whose actions are described ad nauseam, completely vanish soon afterwards. Another annoying thing was the constant misspelling of French. For example Metropolitaine, instead of Métropolitain; Gare du Lyon instead of Gare de Lyon; Toiss ...more
Elizabeth Moffat
If I could give three and a half stars to this novel, I definitely would! An intriguing and entertaining golden age mystery with so many strands, twists and turns I was desparate to discover "who dunnit."
Tiana Hadnt
3.5 STARS!!!!!!! The very slow beginning almost made me quit reading, but I'm glad I kept on. It was not the best written or plotted Golden Age detective novel, but for it to be the author's first mystery, it wasn't too bad. The killer is fairly obvious from the time we are introduced, but watching the multiple officers and detectives figure it out was quite enjoyable. I wouldn't suggest this as your first foray in Golden Age mysteries, but it's definitely worth a read if you already have a hist ...more
Nov 13, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Nicely plotted, old fashioned mystery.
Whistlers Mom
Sep 11, 2016 Whistlers Mom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of my favorites, but I honestly don't know if I should recommend it or not. It's long and slow moving, but I love it for the glimpses into everyday life (for men, anyway) in England and France in the years just after WWI. It represented a departure from the typical mystery of that time - which invariably features a brilliant, charismatic private detective pulling rabbits out of hats and astonishing on-lookers with his omniscience.

Crofts was an Irish railroad engineer and was suc
Lisa Kucharski
Sep 06, 2014 Lisa Kucharski rated it liked it
The beginning suffers a bit from showing us every bit of movement made and thought by the investigating police, and could have used a heavier hand by an editor. However, about the last third of the book when a lawyer gets involved and then a private detective is involved the story actually comes to life and it feels like you are reading about people and not just sifting through facts.

It certainly feels like a book that was written before 1920, though the copyright is 1920. In those 1910 years th
Jun 21, 2016 Thắng rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
A genius book in the Golden Age, I believe.
Not like many others thrillers, which are focused on the non-official detectives, this one spent a large amount of pages in describing how the investigation went on with the official forces, which makes it distintively significant from the rest of them (thrillers) that I have the opportunity to read.
What I admire the most about this book, was the skim that the murderer used, which was the one that led the entirely The Scotland Yard and Surete into the w
Mar 02, 2015 Bonnie rated it it was ok
I found the description of the meticulous detective work in this novel interesting. Though it must be boring to do, it's probably accurate. The plot was quite convoluted, yet somehow I knew who the culprit was all along. The characters weren't very well filled out, but I still had a sense of the author's attitude toward each of them. The action is between Paris and England early in the 20th century.

I read this book was written while the author was convalescing, as a past time, and was his first
Shay Lynn
If you can follow this plotline, then...

... congratulations, you are one ruthless sleuthhound indeed. After too many clues, too many characters appearing from nowhere and too many changes in locale this tired old brain skipped over several chapters to the end. Your younger, more nimble mind could very well enjoy the challenge.
Katherine Rowland
For a book that revolves around love and revenge, this is curiously colorless, mostly leaning toward being a police procedural. I knocked off a star for the sheer tedium; some ground is covered so often that the narrative feels threadbare. The author relies for mystification mostly on complex timetables and alibis, which are rehashed multiple times. Even so, the book had possibilities and wasn't unreadable, and the pace picked up about midway through the book. I will probably read another by thi ...more
Sep 13, 2016 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
A woman is found dead in a shipping barrel. At first the mystery is her identity. Once that is established, it is pretty clear who did it but how was it done. His alibi seems unshakable. The detective work sorting out this puzzle is realistic and the descriptions of pre WW I Europe are engaging.

I am glad to have discovered Crofts but I don't think this is his best work.
Brian Collyer
Jun 29, 2015 Brian Collyer rated it liked it
I have been giving the "Golden Age of Mystery" authors a go recently and all I can say is that I'd hardly consider anyone but Christie to be great. Another okay book with a rather obvious outcome that somehow still finds a way to disappoint. I don't regret reading this. It wasn't awful. But, there are better paced and surprising mystery books out there.
Aug 02, 2012 Francis rated it really liked it
It does go into excrutiating detail at times and it is probably longer than it needs to be. Yet despite it's flaws I think it does deserve it's reputation of being a minor classic of the Detective genre.

Early police procedural, with a good mystery, and more than a few interesting twists and turns
William S.
Jul 21, 2011 William S. rated it really liked it
This is a fine puzzle story, so well wrought that you have to keep notes in order to have any chance at figuring out the plotlines, as they unravel thinner and thinner. It would be a perfect read for a weekend at a country lodge, where reading trumps conversation!
Feb 05, 2017 Helen rated it it was amazing
A brilliant and exciting story that initially seems quite straightforward, but turns out to have many twists and turns in the plot. It's fascinating to see the clever Police work near the end break down the case and expose the truth. Very enjoyable to read.
Margaret Wichorek
Apr 20, 2015 Margaret Wichorek rated it liked it
This is a pretty fair police procedural by an English author, who was well known in the 30's and 40's. I don't read too many of these because the focus is on procedure and I'm more interested in characterization than so many details that, after awhile , it just gets boring.
Maurice Arnall
Jan 30, 2015 Maurice Arnall rated it liked it
A decent mystery although a tad predictable. What I like most about older books is the history you get as a bonus. This one was published in 1920 and is full of descriptive passages of London and Paris back then.
May 02, 2015 Pamela rated it did not like it
Tedious with minimal character development and way WAY too much about railroad schedules. Good example of how not every mystery written during the Golden Age of Mysteries is golden. This is more rusty tin than anything else.
John Sargent
Feb 25, 2015 John Sargent rated it really liked it
Enjoyed very much. Very clever with good plot and pacing.
Michael Long
Fair Story

Slow read here but the story was good. I don't think it's worth a 2nd read. I will try another book by this author.
Jan 08, 2014 Willo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read with many of the Crofts trademarks:
- an impeccable mystery plot
- trains, ships and timetables
- descriptions of how business was done in the early 20th century
Diane Challenor
Abandoned! I read about 30 pages before giving up on this one. I abandoned it because it was too old fashioned and slow for me!
Feb 07, 2015 Peggy rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Yes, the detection was tedious, but I appreciated the methodical sleuthing. I also enjoyed knowing it was an early Golden Age procedural that influenced later classic writers.
Jan 19, 2017 Marg rated it really liked it
A good murder mystery!
Brooke rated it it was amazing
Nov 03, 2015
Michael rated it it was ok
Jan 29, 2017
Ann rated it liked it
Sep 19, 2012
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Born in Dublin of English stock, Freeman Wills Crofts was educated at Methodist and Campbell Colleges in Belfast and at age 17 he became a civil engineering pupil, apprenticed to his uncle, Berkeley D Wise who was the chief engineer of the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway (BNCR).

In 1899 he became a fully fledged railway engineer before becoming a district engineer and then chief assistant en
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