THE NEWTONIAN EGG: And Other Cases of Rolf Le Roux
Crippen & Landru inaugurates a welcome new series, Lost Classics, with this fine collection of 10 whodunits and howdunits set in South Africa and first published between 1948 and 1986. Rolf Le Roux, a lawyer with a degree in psychology, regularly consults with the Capetown CID, with whom his nephew serves. Godfrey (1917—1992) matches Rolf, who's an unassuming, humane and brilliant sleuth in the best tradition of Father Brown and Dr. Gideon Fell, with some worthy puzzles. In the title tale, a boiled egg is poisoned although its shell remains intact, while in "And Turn the Hour," a man discovers, after losing the memory of nearly an hour of his life, that his pockets now contain a crushed flower and an unused movie ticket. "The Flung-Back Lid" is an outstanding impossible crime, set on an empty cable-car whose conductor leaves a mountaintop hale and hearty, only to be stabbed by an invisible murderer en route to the bottom. Le Roux's solution to a murder in a Shakespearean company in "The Perfumes of Arabia" requires a sophisticated knowledge of Macbeth. The stories' apartheid regime background lends an extra dimension, especially in "The Face of the Sphinx," in which Le Roux must not only capture a daring jewel thief who uses a canine confederate but also head off a race riot inspired by a demagogue who uses the rash of thefts as a pretext. Fans of Agatha Christie, G.K. Chesterton, Christianna Brand and John Dickson Carr will eagerly devour this cunning author's work. (Apr. 15)
FYI:Godfrey, who moved to London in 1962 because of his antiapartheid views, contributed more than 2,000 stories to periodicals.