"Inspector, it's--it's dastardly!"
"Mrs. Huntingdon," said Knollis, "your choice of words is admirable!"
Inspector Knollis of Scotland Yard is hoping for a nice quiet weekend in the country. Instead he is embroiled in a murder case--the death by gunshot of local bigwig Richard Huntingdon.
Jean, the dead man's wife, discovers the body in dense woods near a river. Knollis soon learns that Jean's previous husband also met an untimely end, not that she is the only suspect. Despite his reputation for good deeds, Huntingdon had enemies in the district, including the progressive Bishop of Northcote. And it turns out the late Mr. Huntingdon was intimately involved with a grade-A femme fatale. . . .
Knollis, along with the redoubtable Sergeant Ellis, has to deal with a plethora of puzzling clues before solving this bucolic case of Murder most Foul. Key to the mystery is a toy yacht found floating on the river near the body--a craft almost identical to the gift recently received--anonymously--by Huntingdon's young daughter, Dorrie.
The Ninth Enemy was originally published in 1948. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.
"Francis Vivian skips all tedious preliminaries and is commendably quick off the mark; we meet his characters with lively pleasure." Observer
"Mr. Vivian neatly fits everything in its place." Times Literary Supplement
Francis Vivian was born Arthur Ernest Ashley in 1906 at East Retford, Nottinghamshire. He was the younger brother of noted photographer Hallam Ashley. Vivian laboured for a decade as a painter and decorator before becoming an author of popular fiction in 1932. In 1940 he married schoolteacher Dorothy Wallwork, and the couple had a daughter. After the Second World War he became assistant editor at the Nottinghamshire Free Press and circuit lecturer on many subjects, ranging from crime to bee-keeping (the latter forming a major theme in the Inspector Knollis mystery The Singing Masons). A founding member of the Nottingham Writers' Club, Vivian once awarded first prize in a writing competition to a young Alan Sillitoe, the future bestselling author. The ten Inspector Knollis mysteries were published between 1941 and 1956. In the novels, ingenious plotting and fair play are paramount. A colleague recalled that 'the reader could always arrive at a correct solution from the given data. Inspector Knollis never picked up an undisclosed clue which, it was later revealed, held the solution to the mystery all along.' Francis Vivian died on April 2, 1979 at the age of 73.