I read this book for the Mount TBR reading challenge 2014.
The Missing Man – Hillary Waugh, 1964
Critics credit Hillary Waugh as a pioneer in the mystery genre that is described as “police procedural set in a small town.” The series hero Police Chief Fred Fellows and his sidekick Detective Sergeant Sidney Wilks starred in nine novels, with the initial one, Last Seen Wearing, ending up on many lists of best mysteries of all time.
In The Missing Man Fellows and Wilks piece together clues to determine the identity of and find the killer of a young woman whose body was found on a Connecticut beach. They use good old-fashioned police work as they unleash operatives to do the tedious review of hundreds of documents and lists. They also use their experience, imagination, and reasoning to reach conclusions. Fellows is an every-man type of character, subject to slips and goofs but creative and compassionate to the victims’ families as well. Waugh himself grew up in small town Connecticut so the setting of Stockdale feels authentic. A Yale man, he gets in some digs at posing Yale men.
Waugh passed away in 1988 at the age of 88. His obituary in the New York Times ends with Waugh’s advice to mystery writers: “Authenticity is the key to good mystery writing. Not only must you be able to write well, but you must also possess the instincts of a good reporter who has witnessed firsthand the darker side of human nature.”