The Methods of Sergeant Cluff by Gil North was first published in 1961 but my copy is a British Library Crime Classics re-print. It has an introduction by Martin Edwards. This is the first book I’ve read by Gil North, I can’t say I’m wild about it, I think I’ll probably give it a three on Goodreads. It has occurred to me though that quite possibly the author wrote this book as part of the successful anti death penalty campaign that was going on in the early 1960s. It was a time when there had been several miscarriages of justice and the British juries became disinclined to bring in a guilty verdict for murder, in case they got it wrong.
The setting is a small town on the edge of the Yorkshire moors, it’s a wet night and a young woman’s body is found face down on a cobbled street. Jane Trundle had been an assistant in a chemist’s shop.
There’s only one CID man in the division, Sergeant Cluff, a typical rough no nonsense North of England man, independent and stubborn. He’s a bit of a loner and his colleagues seem to resent his previous successes.
The whole town seems to think that the culprit is a young man who has held a torch for the victim for ages, his horror of the whole situation just makes matters worse, but Cluff is determined to investigate properly.
The trouble with this one is that Cluff seems like such a stereotype detective, along the lines of Morse and many other such mavericks, but maybe he didn’t seem such a cliche in the early 1960s.
I love the front cover though, it has been taken from a British Rail Yorkshire Dales travel poster. I love that style.