In this second installment of Gwen Bohlen’s mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Owain Wallon of Scotland Yard, the discovery of two corpses and human skeletal remains in the cave of a defunct gold mine in Wales triggers a globe-trotting criminal investigation that involves fraudulent financial scheming, corrupt police officials, an attempted frame-up, suicide, and murder.
Wallon is called in to investigate, and with the help of Tom Lewis, a former inspector at Scotland Yard and Wallon’s closest friend; Detective Sergeant Clyde McDowell; and Chief Superintendent Sir William Gordon, Wallon moves quickly to crack this “sinister” case.
Geologists, archeologists, and anthropologists conduct extensive research of the cave and find peculiar stones and ancient writings on its walls. Investigators then try to determine the cave’s origin and purpose and the possibility of it containing an unexcavated source of gold–all of which may provide motive for the crime. Adding to the novel’s intrigue are enigmatic references to Wallon’s parentage and a conceivable link to an aristocratic bloodline, as well as the fast-moving love affair between Wallon and Lady Joanna Whitecoft, a moneyed member of an environmental protection protest group. News of the couple’s relationship prompts Sir Gordon to warn Wallon that he should “share and enjoy Joanna’s company–but not her confidence.”
The story is generally interesting until Wallon unravels the case. Thereafter, it becomes a hurried narrative that endeavors to build suspense for the presumed third Owain Wallon crime novel. It botches that attempt by overcrowding the ending with befuddling plot points.
As a whole, the novel is seriously flawed by typographical errors and the absence of proofreading. There are at least three occasions when the villain’s name is misspelled, and an overabundance of sentences like this: “Joanna returned to London the next day and Joanna waited she would wait for contact from Brian.” This impedes readability and limits the novel’s plausibility as a well-thought-out work of fiction.