Freeman Wills Crofts was one of the leading writers of the Golden Age of detective fiction between the wars, but I have only read a few of his books over the years, and by and large have found them competently constructed, but lacking in flair. However, most recently I read The Hog's Back Mystery, my choice for today's Forgotten Book, and found it distinctly more impressive than the other novels by Crofts that I've tried in the past.
The starting point is an apparent domestic intrigue. A doctor's wife has become involved with another man, to the dismay of her friends. Then a chance encounter suggests that the doctor is also playing away from home. He is seen in the company of a younger woman, and lies about what he was getting up to. When the doctor and his friend – who proves to be a nurse of his acquaintance – vanish mysteriously, it seems that they may have run off together. But the truth is very different.
Inspector French is called in, only for one of the doctor's house guests to go missing as well. What is the explanation for the disappearances? And if the three missing people have been murdered, what can be the motive? This is an intriguing and elaborate puzzle, which I found genuinely appealing.
Typically, the weakness of a Crofts mystery is that the suspect with an unbreakable alibi proved to be the culprit, making the storyline rather predictable. But here there are no fewer than six suspects, and a plethora of alibis to unravel. This time, Crofts had me fooled. I'm surprised that this story is not better known, and I also enjoyed the "clue finder" he thoughtfully provided to show how fairly the clues were given. A very good example of that classic mystery puzzle.