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The Figure of Eight by Cecil Waye

Title: The Figure of Eight (Perrins, Private Investigators #2)

Author: Cecil Waye

First published in 1st January, 1931; Republished by Dean Street Press on 1st February 2021

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Private Investigators

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

A woman is found sleeping on a London bus. The bus has reached its final spot so the conductor tries to wake the woman up; but she hardly moves. She’s breathing though. An ambulance is called and the woman is taken to the hospital. Two days later, the bus conductor who tried to wake her up learns she will never wake up…

Christopher Perrins is adjusting to his new life; by ‘new’, I mean his sleuthing partner and sister Vivienne Perrins has retired from business to become Mrs. Austin Wynter (whom she met in Murder at Monk’s Barn.) Perrins (Christopher) has an assistant – David Meade. He’s a young chap and shares a flat with Perrins.

Señor Vincente de Lanate, a Montedorian diplomat arrives at Perrins’ office and talks to him about the woman found in the bus. The woman was called Lola Martinaes and like de Lanate, she too was a Montedorian (and de Lanate’s mistress.) He tells Perrins that Lola was murdered by Montedorian’s rival – San Benitos – and asks Perrins to investigate.

This is soon followed by three murders and disappearance of two men, suggesting an international conspiracy. Christopher Perrins finds himself in the middle of this mess – not in a good way!

The Figure of Eight is the second book in Cecil Waye’s Perrins, Private Investigators series. I have read the first book in this series and was eagerly looking forward to catch up on the rest of the books. The first book introduced us to the Perrins siblings – Christopher and Vivienne. They are involved in a case and Vivienne falls in love with one of the suspects. He’s finally proved innocent and Viv ends up marrying him.

When I spoke to John (a book buddy and fan of Bellairs) about this series, he told me (or rather, warned me) that Viv does not appear in rest of the series. I really loved the sleuthing siblings and I missed Viv in this book – though married, she could have been a consultant PI.

Days after Lola’s death, Señor Vincente de Lanate asks Christopher Perrins to help find her murderer and bring them to justice. He believes Montedorian’s rival San Benitans are behind Lola’s murder. He also talks about the missing documents.

“There are some things, Mr. Perrins, that I do not care to keep either at the Legation or in my rooms at Wighton’s Hotel,” replied Señor Vincente gravely. “I had documents in my possession whose publication would compromise not only myself but the Montedorian Government. For greater safety I left them in Lola’s charge. Up to the present I have been unable to discover what has become of them, although I searched the flat in Notting Hill very thoroughly on Saturday afternoon. Estella (the maid), I am certain, had no knowledge of their existence.”

Inspector Philpott of Scotland Yard is almost of the same age as Christopher Perrins. Perrins is on good terms with the Yard and a dear friend of Philpott. When both of them are at Perrins’ flat discussing the case, the inspector receives a call about a crime. Three men are murdered in broad daylight. These murders are related to the case that Perrins is currently pursuing i.e., Lola Martinaes’ murder.

Perrins is shocked to hear about one of the murder victims. The documents are still missing and the clues point to one San Benitan – a woman named Señorita Isabelle de Laucourt. Is she responsible for all the four murders? When interviewed, it is pretty clear she’s hiding something. It would be a mistake to arrest a foreign diplomat without no evidence and risk the chance of escalating matters further.

Philpott is pressurized by the Assistant Commissioner and Home Secretary to solve the case as soon as possible. The Assistant Commissioner asks Philpott to take Perrins’ help if necessary. With no solid evidence and two witnesses/suspects gone missing after the murders, the Scotland Yard men are at a dead end. Then comes a twist – something to do with Christopher Perrins.

Perrins realizes the murders suggest an international conspiracy and could soon lead to a war. Stakes are high and Perrins must play well – but he soon finds himself at the receiving end and must fight for his life.

I absolutely loved The Figure of Eight by Cecil Waye. The suspense is well-maintained throughout the story and I did not see the twists coming! There are plenty of twists. Also, the identity of the killer – gosh! certainly a sheep in wolf’s clothing scenario. The second half of the book is where all the action is. Perrins’ life at stake and missing documents, the mysterious poison and much more – a nail-biting adventure!

I missed reading about Vivienne but that didn’t stop me from liking the story. David Meade is a new addition to the series and I am eager to see how this new assistant of Perrins is going to help in the future investigations. (He did a pretty good job in this story.)

The Figure of Eight by Cecil Waye is an interesting, unique and completely engrossing mystery classic. If not for Dean Street Press’ decision to reprint this series, I would have missed reading such a wonderful series so thank you DSP!

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