W.J. Burley is perhaps best known for his Superintendent Wycliff series, but in
“The School Master,” Burley goes with a different central character. (As this was written
in 1977 it perhaps precedes the Wycliff series.) It seems that Arthur Milton's wife has left
him for another man; it seems that shosrtly thereafter the man if found murdered; it seems
that Arthur himself is the chief suspect, as he was seen in a nearby cafe on the night of the
murder. The waitress, Julie, doesn't report him and thereafter they begin a love affair.
This lasts for only so long, as guilt starts to bother Arthur, even though he knows he didn't
do the killing. As the narrative progresses (and it does seem a bit convoluted at times!),
Arthur himself begins the investigation of another murder, some 20 years earlier and then
Burley's talent as a top-notch crime writer takes over--more convolution--as the plot takes
a number of spins before coming--believe it or not--logically to an end. Besides the unusual
plot, the author gives us a good insight into an incredibly troubled mind.
This report prepared by Bill Hobbs