Freeman Wills Crofts

Freeman Wills Crofts was born in Dublin. His father (a British army doctor) died while he was still a child, and his mother subsequently remarried. He was educated at the Methodist and Campbell Colleges in Belfast. In 1896 he was apprenticed to his uncle, chief engineer on the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway. In 1899, he became junior assistant engineer on the Londonderry and Strabane Railway. In the following year he was promoted to district engineer. In 1912, he married Mary Bellas Canning. In 1923 he went back to work for the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway. By this time, he was already a published author. In 1925 the first 'Inspector Joseph French' novel was published. This hero appeared in another 29 novels. The success of his novels enabled him to give up his job and become a full-time writer. He and his wife moved from Northern Ireland to Blackheath, Surrey. In the early Fifties, Crofts became seriously ill but continued to work on what turned out to be his final novel.


Titles and year of publication:  

 'Inspector Joseph French' Novels
 1) Inspector French's Greatest Case  1925
 2) Inspector French and the Cheyne Mystery (US Title: The Cheyne Mystery [1926])  1926
 3) Inspector French and the Starvel Tragedy (US Title: The Starvel Hollow Tragedy [1927])  1927
 4) The Sea Mystery  1928
 5) The Box Office Murders (US Title: The Purple Sickle Murders [1929])  1928
 6) Sir John Magill's Last Journey  1930
 7) Mystery in the Channel (US Title: Mystery in the English Channel [1931])  1931
 8) Sudden Death  1932
 9) Death on the Way (US Title: Double Death [1932])  1932
10) The Hog's Back Mystery (US Title: The Strange Case of Dr. Earle [1933])  1933
11) The 12.30 from Croydon (US Title: Wilful and Premeditated [1934])  1934
12) Mystery on Southampton Water (US Title: Crime on the Solent [1934])  1934
13) Crime at Guildford (US Title: The Crime at Nornes [1935])  1935
14) The Loss of the Jane Vosper  1936
15) Man Overboard! (Also published as: Cold-Blooded Murder [1947])  1936
16) Found Floating  1937
17) The End of Andrew Harrison (US Title: The Futile Alibi [1938])  1938
18) Antidote to Venom  1938
19) Fatal Venture (US Title: Tragedy in the Hollow [1939])  1939
20) Golden Ashes  1940
21) James Tarrant, Adventurer (US Title: Circumstantial Evidence [1941])  1941
22) The Losing Game (US Title: A Losing Game [1941])  1941
23) Fear Comes to Chalfont  1942
24) The Affair at Little Wokeham (US Title: Double Tragedy [1943])  1943
25) Enemy Unseen  1945
26) Death of a Train  1946
27) Murderers Make Mistakes (short stories)  1947
28) Silence for the Murderer  1948
29) French Strikes Oil (US Title: Dark Journey [1951])  1952
30) Many a Slip (short stories)  1955
31) Anything to Declare?  1957
 Other Novels
 1) The Cask  1920
 2) The Ponson Case  1921
 3) The Pit-Prop Syndicate  1922
 4) The Groote Park Murder  1923
 5) The Hunt Ball Murder (short story)  1943
 6) Mr. Sefton, Murderer (short story)  1944
 7) Young Robin Brand, Detective (young adult novel; features Inspector French)  1947
 8) The Mystery of the Sleeping Car Express (short stories; some stories feature Inspector French)  1956