Classic Crime

John Greenwood

John Greenwood is the pseudonym of John Buxton Hilton who is best known for his Inspector Kenworthy detective novels under the Buxton Hilton name. Not much is known about this particular writer (I couldn't even find a photo of him on the Internet) but the scant details we have is that Buxton Hilton was born in 1921 in Buxton, Derbyshire. Whether the name Buxton is actually his name or adopted due to his birthplace is unknown.

After doing war service, Buxton Hilton became an Inspector of schools before retiring in the 1970’s. Buxton Hilton died in 1986 and wrote twenty-nine detective novels in less than twenty years, five of which were published posthumously, including two from the Mosley series.

Review: Murder, Mr Mosley

‘Murder, Mr Mosley’ was the first in the Mosley series of six novels. Mosley is wonderfully described in the first page when the Assistant Chief Constable and Superintendent Grimshaw are discussing who should take charge of Brenda Thwaites’ murder and the only detective available is Mosley.

‘But damn it, he couldn’t even get to the scene of crime.’ sighs the ACC.

And so is Greenwood’s ‘hero’ introduced. Within a few sentences Mosley comes fully formed: shambolic and slow-moving, a man who can only be relied on to find out who stole a box of oranges from the greengrocers or broke in to the village hall. Mosley knows his patch and he knows everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who comes under his jurisdiction. With detailed notebooks on people’s lives going back decades, Mosley appears to know more about humanity and it’s quirks that more than rivals Miss Marple's understanding of humankind! It is this humane side to Mosley that turns him from a clown to someone who doesn’t miss a trick. And as with Marple, you underestimate Mosley at your peril!

Mosley is put in charge of the murder of Brenda Thwaites, a woman who disappeared when she was in her teens having married against her parents’ wishes, only to dump the new husband on the way to the honeymoon! Now, seventeen years later, Brenda is back in Parson’s Fold and causing havoc. Now she has been found dead in the home she grew up in, a bullet fired through the back of her neck.

Mosley is immediately memorable and I could visualise him on the small screen, so fully formed does he arrive from Greenwood’s wonderful description. To me he was a larger version of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor Who, a clown, but one with a sharp intellect. Despite his superiors’ misgivings, Mosley is a canny and wily individual and he has an innate ability to read people like an open book. Mosley is not your usual detective in a starring role, but with the young Beamish in tow to balance the old school with the new age of thinking, you have a winning team. Even Beamish who is not best pleased about being ‘lumped’ with Mosley, has only respect for the man, although maybe not his methods, at bringing the case to a successful climax.

As with many of the silver age novelists, most novels of this time (this was published in 1983) were succinct to say the least. Mosley's first case comes a shade under 150 pages but at just over £1.00 for the e-book, you really can't go wrong with this fine little tale which is laced with humour and ironic wit. The writing can feel a little dated at times and even a little ‘wordy’ when a simpler sentence would have sufficed. However, there is a wonderful nostalgic whiff of detection here, when ‘bobbies’ had to do a lot of their detecting out in the field in a red telephone box and didn't rely on mobiles or CCTV! Plus, some turkey smugglers and that box of oranges are also sorted by the end, so everything in Mosley’s domain is once more right with the world.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating