The Drummond Affair: : Murder and Mystery in Provence
Dan Smith, Stephanie Matthews

The Drummond Affair: : Murder and Mystery in Provence

1950s France: A British Establishment figure. A shocking crime. A miscarriage of justice. The search for truth.



Summer, 1952. Provence, France. A farmer discovers the slain bodies of a family of British holidaymakers – the Drummonds. The father, Jack, is a pillar of British society, a knight of the realm celebrated for keeping the nation fed during wartime. The murders cause a sensation and a local man is arrested, convicted and sentenced to death by the Guillotine. Yet back in the UK, the Drummonds are all but erased from history. Now new evidence points to a gross miscarriage of justice and sheds light on Jack Drummond’s secret life in espionage – a covert career that threatened to embarrass the very Establishment that once lauded him. Now is the time to reopen one of France’s most notorious cases and to tell the story of the extraordinary life and death of Jack Drummond, a forgotten British Hero.

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  • Author: Dan Smith, , Stephanie Matthews
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Dan Smith,

Dan Smith,

Daniel Smith was born in London in 1976 and studied English and History at Cardiff University. He began a career in publishing shortly after graduating, which included a stint working in Kolkata, India. He has been a contributor to The Statesman’s Yearbook, a geo-political guide to the world published annually since 1854, for twenty years. He wrote his first book, The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide, in 2009 and has subsequently written over 30 non-fiction titles, for both adults and children. He is the author of the best-selling How to Think Like… biographical ...
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Stephanie Matthews

Stephanie Matthews

Stephanie enjoyed a career as a doctor, qualifying in Wales and specialising in Medical Biochemistry, in particular helping people with nutritional problems and inherited high cholesterol, establishing a specialist unit for LDL Apheresis. She took time out to study for a PhD in Cardiovascular Biochemistry leaving her with a zeal for research and evidence based decision making.   A passionate believer in the public and children becoming inspired by science, and giving them the knowledge to make their own informed decisions, she helped found The Darwin Centre in Pembrokeshire which has...
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Book Reviews

  • "  This riveting, eye-opening reinvestigation of a seventy-year-old murder mystery reads like a whodunit. Authors Stephanie Matthews and Daniel Smith sift through a mountain of intriguing evidence, line up an array of shady suspects, and dissect a flawed prosecution in their relentless search for the truth. A true crime must-read."
    Dean Jobb, author of The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream
  • " ‘The murder of a British scientist, his wife and daughter on a country road in southern France shocked people on both sides of the Channel in 1952. Was it a simple case that Sir Jack Drummond and his family were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was there a deeper untold story of espionage and revenge? Stephanie Matthews and Daniel Smith have come up with what is surely the definitive answer and one that is more about the victims than the murderer.’   "
    Stephen Bates, author of The Poisonous Solicitor
  • "With The Drummond Affair, Stephanie Matthews and Daniel Smith reach back into the myth of a long-forgotten murder mystery and seeming miscarriage of justice. At its heart is the murder of British Government advisor Sir Jack Drummond, his wife and their ten-year-old daughter while on holiday in France in the 1950s.  Like private investigators examining a cold case, Matthews and Smith reveal their conclusions in a cool and analytical narrative style and expose the very British Drummond’s secret life that hints at possible espionage links. But this is as much social history as it is gripping true crime and the clear-eyed storytelling makes this a compelling read that lingers long after the last page has been turned.  The authors have done a remarkable job of reconstructing the story and offering a possible new solution to this terrible murder mystery.  The Drummond Affair comes on the heels of Smith’s other true crime books, The Peer and the Gangster and Scandal at Dolphin Square; this new work establishes him as the Truman Capote of class-obsessed British true crime.’   "
    Jeremy Craddock, author of The Jigsaw Murders
  • "  I really enjoyed reading this book. It cleverly interweaves the stories of the botched investigation of the murder of a family in the 1950s and nutritional science in the first half of the twentieth century with an attempt to uncover the truth about the life of the murder victim Sir Jack Drummond. It seems extraordinary that Sir Jack, feted by the UK and US establishments for his contributions to the discovery of vitamins, to UK nutrition in the second world war and nutrition in Europe at the end of the war, seems at the same time to have been such a murky character.  His origins seem just as mysterious as his death. This book raises as many new questions as those it answers. Was there a link between Sir Jack’s interest in agrochemicals and a possible involvement in chemical weapons? What else did he do in the two world wars and the early cold war?  Why was he an Honorary Commander of the Royal Naval Reserve and above all what on earth was he really up to when he stopped at the roadside where he and his family were murdered? Despite all the unanswered questions this is an enthralling read and bowls along at great pace.’  "
    Professor Paul Luzio, Emeritus Professor of Molecular Membrane Biology, University of Cambridge
  • "‘The tragic murder of a British family in France in 1952 appeared an open-and-shut case. But as Stephanie Matthews and Dan Smith meticulously show it was anything but. The Drummond Affair is a serious reinvestigation full of revealing background information that sheds additional light on what was then and now remains a shocking crime.’   "
    Paul French, author of CWA Non-Fiction Dagger award-winning Midnight in Peking
  • "  A thought-provoking examination of an intriguing murder mystery from the Fifties"
    Martin Edwards, award-winning crime novelist
  • "  Not only a most interesting account of the life of Sir Jack Drummond, whose work for the Ministry of Food ensured that the British nation remained well fed and nourished during the Second World War, but [it] also sheds new light on the mystery surrounding the murder of Sir Jack and his family while they were on holiday in France in 1952.  "
    Professor Sir Philip Cohen
  • "  A meticulously researched re-examination of the shocking murder of Britain’s top biochemist Sir Jack Drummond, his wife Anne, and their young daughter Elizabeth, in 1950s Provence.  The Drummond Affair puts the victims of this terrible crime – in which an innocent man was sentenced to the guillotine – back at the heart of the story, identifying a prime suspect, and shedding fascinating new light on Jack Drummond’s heroic war time career as well as his little-known top secret government work.  "
    Caitlin Davies, author of Private Inquiries: The Secret History of Female Sleuths
  • "A stunning story of science, secrecy and a search for a killer. Stephanie Matthews and Daniel Smith’s The  Drummond Affair is a terrific read, thrilling and unpredictable. It seamlessly blends story and supposition with scientific and documentary precision. Set in 1950’s France where Sir Jack Drummond, his wife and young daughter are murdered in the middle of the night on a quiet rural road, it asks why this internationally renowned scientist and his family have been killed. Was Gaston, the old farmer eventually accused of the murder, the killer or was it an opportunistic robbery that got out of hand or, more darkly, an organised execution?  Matthews and Smith joyfully explore Drummond’s wartime work for the government, his connection with big pharma and the rumours that he was involved in espionage. Could any of those have been the reason for the deaths?  It’s a cracking tale with a pace that twists and teases. But ultimately, do we know who killed Jack Drummond?  What is the conclusion of the storytellers, and have they solved the crime? You will just have to read this fascinating and emotive true story of murder and mystery in Provence … because I’m not telling you.’  "
    Phil Rowlands, author of Sienna and Single Cell