The last detective novel that was authored by GDH and Margaret Cole--this one primarily by GDH, or Douglas, as he was known--is Toper's End (1942), a murder mystery that takes place over a few days at Excalibur House, the country house of Dr. Percy Sambourne, a wealthy and eccentric chemist.
|Toper's End (1942) saw the end of the Coles'|
series of detective novels, started in 1923
Oh, and Queenie Moggridge's estranged husband, Rowland, pops up too, at dinner, drunk (he's the "toper" of the title). However, he promptly pops off too! The next day he is found dead in bed, poisoned two different ways. Meanwhile Dr. Sambourne has been poisoned too (just one way), but he's not dead--not yet, anyway!
Excalibur House is nostalgically located by Cole in rural "Brigshire," the setting for two of his earlier detective novels, Corpse in Canonicals (1930) and End of an Ancient Mariner (1933). In Toper's End, as in those two earlier novels, Colonel Hubert Walsh, chief constable of the county, and his flirtatious wife, Emily, appear; but it is the Coles' most famous series detective, Superintendent Henry Wilson, who solves the case, aided by his occasional attendant Watson, Dr. Michael Prendergast (the pair appear together in the earlier The Man from the River, 1928, and The Missing Aunt, 1938, as well as sixteen short stories).
The puzzle is enjoyable and the writing entertaining, making the novel a pleasing swan song in that form for the Coles and for Supt. Wilson (he appears in a later-published short story, "Birthday Gifts," though this tale may have been written earlier, in the late 1920s or 1930s).
I'm not as sure as Wilson that his case would hold up in court, however. Certainly Wilson's method of extracting information from a witness is one I have never encountered elsewhere in crime literature!