I was at a flea market in Opelousas, Louisiana when I spotted The Crime of Colin Wise by Michael Underwood (pseudonym of John Michael Evelyn, 1916-1992). This 1964 hardcover was in good shape and, priced at $2, it was a steal.
This great little crime thriller follows a television repairman, Wise, who steals and forges a check of the affluent Geoffrey Goodwin. He then invites Goodwin to his house under the false pretense of selling the rich man one of his paintings. Wise murders him by strangulation, carefully dissecting the body in his bathtub and disposing the pieces in various spots around the countryside. Colin Wise is a meticulous self-controlled killer who believes he has committed the perfect crime, but Goodwin left the directions to Colin’s house in the car glove compartment on the night of the crime. Enter, Inspector Manton who finds this evidence and uses it to prove Colin was the last person to see Goodwin alive.
I was expecting this story to take the predictable path of cat and mouse between Inspector Manton and Colin Wise leading up to an inevitable conclusion. Instead, Wise is put behind bars early on and the story becomes a courtroom drama. The police build a case on circumstantial evidence, which results in a hung jury. Just when the plot seems to be drawing to an end, a twelve-year-old boy walking his dog makes a gruesome discovery. One more twist awaits before The Crime of Colin Wise concludes.
This was an enjoyable find, and based on this work alone, I would recommend it or any other Michael Underwood books you might happen to come across.
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