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The Cask

Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Summary

From the Collins Crime Club archive, the seminal first novel by Freeman Wills Crofts, once dubbed ‘The King of Detective Story Writers’ and recognised as one of the ‘big four’ Golden Age crime authors.

The unloading of a consignment of French wine from the steamship Bullfinch is interrupted by a gruesome discovery in a broken cask leaking sawdust and gold sovereigns. But when the shipping clerk returns with the police, the cask and its macabre contents have gone. Following the clues to Paris, Inspector Burnley of Scotland Yard enlists the help of the genial French detective M. Lefarge to check motives and alibis in their hunt for evidence of a particularly fiendish murder. 

This Detective Story Club classic is introduced by Freeman Wills Crofts himself in a unique preface from 1946 about The Cask’s origins.

©2019 Freeman Wills Crofts (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"The soundest builder of them all." (Raymond Chandler)

"Deservedly a first favourite with all who want a real puzzle." (Times Literary Supplement)

What listeners say about The Cask

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Refreshing!

It's so refreshing not to have to contend with endless character delving to the nth degree of the protagonists, usually to the detriment of the plot, and which seems to be the modern tendency. Just straightforward crime sleuthing with this story, even if the plot is a tad unbelievable.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A really intricate puzzle

This harks back to the time when the detective novel was less formulaic. The reader follows the developing thoughts of the various sleuths involved (and having more than one allows a diversity of 'voices') and sees the plot unfolding. The dénouement follows from the information that is slowly unfolded, but more information is revealed as the story goes on so that it is not a matter of 'guessing whodunit' but more an unravelling of a puzzle. Seeing the detectives struggling to piece together what happened, is absorbing in itself.
It is also full of wonderful period detail from the time just before World War I: all kinds of small things that were current when the books was written, and give it colour now. For instance, when a long distance call is received, the operation will announce it to the recipient with the words 'Calais [or wherever the call is being made from] wants you.' Modes of transport, social behaviour, industrial practices, all are reflected in this book.
The narrator is on the whole sound---he reads with good pace and interprets the text clearly, My only slight cavil is that almost all spoken words are narrated with a kind of 'upspeak' that I found a bit grating as a steady diet. But the voice is pleasant, and he gives just the right emphasis to the words.
Overall a most enjoyable book, both longer and more absorbing than most, more predictable, modern crime novels. I shall look out for more Freeman Will Crofts, whose reputation is deservedly reviving.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-06-19

The Cask

Wonderfully well crafted mystery ! For readers who appreciate the "How it was done " type of mystery.....this will be a detailed delight .....and the reader does a masterful job.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Marie
  • 17-07-19

couldn't finish

way too long and repetitive. while the narrator does a good job in general with the narrative sections, all his male characters, even the youngish ones, sound elderly.

1 person found this helpful