Walter Tyrer - The Case of the Cottage Crime (Sexton Blake Library 3rd Series, #212)
Definitely a case in which it`s not so much the tale as the telling of the tale that counts. The plot may be daft, but Tyrer is on top form in this prime slice of vintage detective fiction.
As ever his particular brand of humour, whilst now rather dated, is both charming and funny ("Alf Beckett did not like women drinking to excess ; it left less liquor for the men") and he is capable of a polished turn of phrase ("Now over his ruddy countenance spread the dawn of understanding like the sun shouldering upwards over a bleak and deserted landscape").
Only once is he apparently let down by the sloppy editing and proof-reading that could mar some SBLs of the period, when one of his descriptions is somehow mangled to include the bizarre phrase "the petulance was stringy" !
If I had to find a fault it would be the author`s (and Blake`s) contrasting of Italian and English characters ; "That`s the difference between the cool northern temperament and the impulsive Italian style" opines Blake at one point. It probably seemed very worldly then - now it just sounds silly and parochial.
I`ve only read this one once so far but feel sure it`s destined to become a personal favourite.