He settled down with his newspaper unaware that life was ebbing away in the silent darkness, so close at hand.Philandering salesman Henry Clayter has been shot dead at his door, and there is no shortage of suspects for Inspector Donald Grant. Was it Clayter's long-suffering wife, who had just informed him that she was leaving him? Was it a local tough, angry at Clayter's attempt to pick up his girlfriend? Was it a colleague obsessing over Clayter's past relationship with his wife? Or was it someone else?
—Peter Malloch, Murder of the Man Next Door 53
Malloch's brisk, workmanlike prose provides deft portraits of people who are leading lives of quiet desperation in a seemingly sleepy British neighborhood.
Malloch was just one pseudonym of Glaswegian author (and former Canadian resident) William Murdoch Duncan (1909–75). He published more than 200 novels and more than 20 novellas/short stories over the course of his career, beginning with Doctor Deals with Murder (1944); an Evening Times article of August 6, 1970, stated that he could produce a thriller in a fortnight. His series characters include Inspector (later Superintendent) Flagg, Sugar Kane (pause for groan at pun), Solo Malcolm, and Mr. Sandyman.