Linford Pratt is a suave and clever law clerk looking for a chance to better himself. Opportunity knocks when he gets possession of a rich man's will that would mean the ruin of the present heirs. His thoughts turn to blackmail, since he assumes the wrongful heirs would pay a high price to hang onto their wealth.
Pratt's personal hero is the subtle, wily diplomat Talleyrand. Self-interest is Pratt's guiding principle. We watch him pondering, planning and scheming his way through one complication after another. I was a little uncomfortable at first at spending so much time inside Pratt's unpleasant head. But we sense from the start that Pratt will get his comeuppance (since this is a mystery, not a tragedy). Watching Pratt's gradual and complex downfall is fun.
There's a love story that thrives in the midst of Pratt's machinations. There are suspicious deaths and disappearances to keep things lively. And there are plenty of interesting characters. The investigators include a nice mix of amateurs and professionals - a clever old lawyer, a detective, a private inquiry agent, and a young man in love.
The Talleyrand Maxim was first published in 1920. I enjoyed this book, although it's not my favorite J. S. Fletcher mystery. But Fletcher can always be counted on to tell a gripping tale. His mysteries were so popular in his day that they were stocked in abundance in railway bookstalls. A Fletcher mystery was the ideal quick read then, and still is.
- Paperback: 177 pages
- Publisher: Independently published (23 September 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1695045688
- ISBN-13: 978-1695045682
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.1 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 327 g
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