cover image The Man Who Didn’t Fly

The Man Who Didn’t Fly

Margot Bennett. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-7282-2000-0

First published in 1955, this outstanding mystery from Bennett (1912–1980) poses a genuinely original puzzle. A private plane that was scheduled to transport four men from England to Ireland crashes into the Irish Channel, presumably killing the pilot and the three men seen to board the plane. But in the absence of the passengers’ corpses, which of them perished—and who is the title character, the fourth man who for an unknown reason missed the flight? Identifying him falls to an entertaining pair of policemen, Inspector Lewis and Sergeant Young, who work diligently to reconstruct what happened in the face of witnesses whose recollections of what the men on the plane looked like are frustratingly murky. Bennett maintains suspense despite not relying on a familiar whodunit structure. Superior prose (a landlord sits “on a low stool, his great, yellow, rectangular face hanging over the bar like a disfigured moon; occasionally pouring a drink”) enhances the crackerjack plot. This superior reissue exemplifies the mission of the British Library Crime Classics series. (Jan.)