The town of Pott Winckle owes its prosperity to the firm of Wibbley Ware. Naturally, when the owner’s daughter is murdered, the call goes out for Scotland Yard’s finest. Once again. Dover is off, the reluctant Sergeant MacGregor in tow. All Dover has to do to cinch this one is settle back in Wibbley’s Rolls Royce. perhaps bend a bit of evidence, or maybe a few fingers. Oddly enough—and not for the first time—his methods result in something resembling a solution.

“Miss Porter . . . has a keen eye, a wicked sense of comedy, and a delightfully low mind.”

—John Dickson Carr, Harper’s

“Joyce Porter . . . has a wonderful sense of a true whodunit plot, comparable to that of Agatha Christie. . .”

—Anthony Boucher, The New York Times Book Review

JOYCE PORTER lives in Wiltshire, England where she continues to write Inspector Dover mysteries, as well as her two series featuring the “Hon-Con,” a gentlewoman/detective, and secret agent Eddie Brown.



Other Chief Inspector Wilfred Dover Novels

From Foul Play Press


Dover One

Dover Two

Dover Three

Dead Easy for Dover

Dover and the Unkindest Cut of All

Dover Beats the Band

Dover Goes to Pott

Dover Strikes Again


Copyright© 1968 by Joyce Porter

This edition first published in 1990 by Foul Play Press,

an imprint of The Countryman Press, Inc.,

Woodstock, Vermont 05091.

ISBN 0-88150-173-5

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2



Margaret Daragon Wishart

with much gratitude

Chapter One

A HUNDRED years or so ago Pott Winckle, now a small undistinguished town, was a small undistinguished village. This metamorphosis was brought about by the happy juxtaposition of a modest deposit of china clay and a man called Daniel Wibbley. Daniel Wibbley exploited the china clay with such energetic genius that he put Pott Winckle on the map, provided it was a large-scale one. Today all but a handful of the town’s population depends, directly or indirectly, for its livelihood on the Wibbley Ware Company Limited, a name to be conjured with in the world of domestic sanitary equipment.

To Daniel Wibbley the First must be given the credit for the original vision. Having discovered his patch of china clay he examined the glories of Wedgwood, Spode and Doulton, and sensibly lowered his sights. Being a practical man he made up his mind to specialize in chamber pots and with half a dozen underpaid workers began manufacturing. Since he produced a reasonably priced, reliable article which satisfied a basic human need, his business flourished modestly. It was left to his son, Daniel Wibbley the Second, to break into the big time. Daniel Wibbley the Second stopped bothering his head about the quality of his chamber pots and devoted all his energies to improving the quality of his advertising. His full-page spreads in all the popular newspapers were at once the wonder and the despair of his Edwardian contemporaries. His most successful series, Famous Buildings, caused a minor scandal with its smudgily drawn pictures of Balmoral, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Holyrood cowering under the banner caption ‘There’s one under every bed!’ Still, whatever it did to loyal sensibilities, it sold chamber pots and Daniel Wibbley was soon enlarging his father’s factory and branching out into wash basins, baths and water closets. His son, Daniel Wibbley the Third, continued the expansion. His products, propelled by ruthless salesmanship, highly dubious business methods and saturation advertising, penetrated the four corners of the world. By his middle forties Daniel Wibbley the Third was a millionaire tycoon and he held the town of Pott Winckle in the palm of his large smooth hand.

The autocracy was an indirect one. It was so powerful that it didn’t need to be anything else. Daniel Wibbley didn’t have to stand as a councillor to control the town hall. Daniel Wibbley hadn’t set foot in a church for donkey’s years but ministers of every denomination in Pott Winckle felt they had him as an invisible witness at their sermons. Even Labour parliamentary candidates were chosen with one eye on Daniel Wibbley, an undisguised Conservative. After all, the entire Socialist selection committee worked in his factory.

Mr Wibbley wasn’t exactly popular with the citizens of Pott Winckle but they certainly knew he was there. Either he paid their wages or he paid the wages of their customers. If his works closed down, the town would die. Pott Winckle knew this, and so did Daniel Wibbley.

With this sort of background it wasn’t surprising that a fair old panic broke out amongst Pott Winckle’s policemen when it was discovered that Daniel Wibbley’s only child, a daughter, had been murdered. The superintendent promptly had one of his queer turns and everyone knew there was no hope of recovery until all the fuss had died down and any cans that were to be carried had been picked up by somebody else. The station sergeant, who had received the original telephone message, was shaking like an aspen leaf and the chief inspector, left right up the breech by his superior’s defection, turned pale. Fifteen years before, as a raw young constable, he had stopped Daniel Wibbley’s chauffeur for speeding. The case had never come to court, of course, but the chief inspector still had nightmares about it. Was history going to repeat itself in an even more horrible form?

‘Shove it upstairs!’ advised the station sergeant breathlessly. ‘Get rid of it! If you don’t have nothing to do with it they can’t blame you, whatever happens, can they?’

The chief inspector glared at him irritably. You could see why this nit had never got beyond three stripes on his fat arm. ‘How can I shove it upstairs, you fool? The super’ll have lashed himself into a coma by now. If you think he’s going to stage a miracle recovery just to pull this one out of the fire for . . . ’

The station sergeant shook his head. How this sloppy burk ever got himself promoted he’d never know! ‘Not the super, the Chief Constable!’ He reached for

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