Monday, November 11, 2013

"We Like Colonel Gore"

Herewith are some contemporary—and several later—reviews of five of Lynn Brock's Colonel Gore books (and one that isn't):

1925. $2.00

From THE SATURDAY REVIEW (July 25, 1925—scroll down to page 936):
Colonel Gore began his deductions when he came back to England, after years of foreign service, and found himself at the Melhuish dinner-party.
Pretty Mrs. Melhuish, who had been a great pal of his in old times, was now married to that rather grim and cool-blooded doctor. Why, standing by the bowl of chrysanthemums on the piano, did she speak in that odd way to the fascinating Mr. Barrington?
Mr. Barrington, Colonel Gore observed, was the kind of man who draws women's eyes as he crosses the room. Their color "brightens beneath the flattery of his look," their voices are "tinged with the subtle challenge of their sex."
The reader, as well as Colonel Gore, deduces that Mr. Barrington is a bit of a bird.
When pretty little Babs Melhuish whispers—audibly, else no story—"If the door is shut, go away. I may not be able to manage tonight"—the cheerful reader begins to hear the tinkle of fracturing Stone Tables.
A thoroughly competent detective story; one that throws enough cantilevers across the Rubicon to keep even the sophisticated modern reader gently entertained; though the stop-light always flashes just before trans-fluminal traffic begins.
"Lynn Brock," the publisher's jacket says, is the "pen name of a noted author;" but the book is copyrighted in the same name; can copyrighting be done under a pseudoym?
In any event the connoisseur of mystery tales will find here one worthy of his evening hours.
We like Colonel Gore; he is one of those gentlemanly, quietly courageous, pipe-and-whiskey-loving British army officers who are the favorite creation of lady novelists (is Lynn Brock a feminine person?). Let's hear from him again.

Excerpt from William F. Deeck's MYSTERY*FILE review (6 November 2013):
Gore is a moderately interesting character, with a dry wit that should have been more in evidence, and a slightly more than adequate investigator. He gets things straightened out, at the risk of his life, in a rather complex but not particularly engrossing case.
See also THE SATURDAY REVIEW (April 16, 1927).


From THE OUTLOOK (December 5, 1928) by Walter R. Brooks:
Who slew Sir William Ireland with a jack-knife in the first-class compartment of a railway carriage? The first half of the story is taken up by the evidence given by all the witnesses who had even the most remote connection with the case; the second, by the activities of Colonel Gore, in his effort to solve it.
That first half is slow reading for any but the most tireless mystery fan, but the second is exciting, and the cleverness of the good Colonel, in sifting false and contradictory evidence until the truth is visible, is amazing.
We have met Colonel Gore before, and he may always be counted on to provide a well knit and interesting tale.
[Not a Colonel Gore story]
1929. $2.00

From THE BOOKMAN (June 1929) (Jump To page 462):
IN her search for relaxation Sarah Virginia Langley tours the byways of England in her caravan for two. She drives straight into murder at Stoke Silver, getting into no end of trouble; but with her clever intuition she hits not only on the answer to the mystery but finds romance as well.

From R. E. Faust's review on the GAD Wiki:
One of Brock's strong points is that Gore is never portrayed as an amateur superman of detection like so many others of the time, such as Lord Peter Wimsey, were.
He regularly makes mistakes, he is beaten up and his private life intrudes to the detriment of his attempt to solve the case.
He also has to battle the local police, survive a near deadly attack and battle a foe from his past before the end, which when it comes is satisfying without raising the book to classic status.
The book also suffers, for this reader at least, from lacking a map of the scene of crime, an unusual omission given Brock's tendency to include maps with his other novels.
Excerpt from Martin Edwards's review on DO YOU WRITE UNDER YOUR OWN NAME? (16 
November 2012):
The darkness of Brock's books is more fashionable nowadays than it was when they were written, but his sometimes dense, sometimes elliptical style counts against him. This is a pity, for he was an interesting writer, with more flair than many of his contemporaries.
More about Gore:
Colonel Wyckham Gore had a lean brown face with twinkling grey eyes and a trim little mustache. This old Harrovian was a brilliant polo player in the army, in which he served in the Westshires, gradually reaching the rank of colonel. He followed the path of his ancestors who had always been soldiers and served in India and France in 1914.
At the age of forty-two and after a year on the Rhine, he completed his military career and joined an expedition to Central Africa. He then came into an income of 350 pounds a year and made his headquarters at a hotel owned by a relative.
Operating thereafter as a detective, Colonel Gore was always likeable and reliable. He was a creation of Alister McAllister under the pseudonym Lynn Brock and appeared in such books as 'The Deductions of Colonel Gore' (1924) and 'The Slip-Carriage Mystery' (1928). The latter book is outstanding in its change of style and method. — W. O. G. Lofts and Derek Adley, THE CRIME FIGHTERS.
Of an entirely different personality, yet with dialectic methods broadly akin to Father Brown's and Dr. Priestley's, is Colonel Gore in Lynn Brock's "The Deductions of Colonel Gore" and "Colonel Gore's Second Case."
Colonel Gore, though ponderous and verbose, is well projected, and the crimes he investigates are well worked-out and admirably, if a bit too leisurely, presented.
The various characterizations of the minor as well as the major personages of the plots, and the long descriptions of social and topographical details, tend to detract from the problems involved; but the competency of Mr. Brock's writing carries one along despite one's occasional impatience. — Willard Huntington Wright, "The Great Detective Stories."
Lynn Brock is placed tentatively . . . next to Philip MacDonald, because of similarities between his series sleuth Colonel Gore, and Philip MacDonald's detective Colonel Gethryn. Both men:
~ Have similar titles and names.
~ Were officers during World War I, but are retired from the British Army, and living civilian lives.
~ Became successful authors.
~ Are outstanding athletes.
~ Are "gentlemen" in the British class system. — Mike Grost, "Lynn Brock," A GUIDE TO CLASSIC MYSTERY AND DETECTION.
For a complete Colonel Gore bibliography, see Steve Lewis's MYSTERY*FILE reprint of William F. Deeck's review, above, and the GAD Wiki.

Category: Detective fiction

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