Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Intentionally Fallible Detective

By Anthony Berkeley.
Crime Club.
1930. $1.00
Available on Kindle.
From THE SATURDAY REVIEW ("Murder Will Out" by William C. Weber, July 18, 1931):
What at this writing is the latest of the dollar Crime Club books is also one of the best. It is "The Second Shot," by Anthony Berkeley. The officiating detective is Roger Sheringham, who likes his beer and an unusual method of discovering criminals.
The story is told by Cyril Pinkerton, also known as "Tapers," a very nice young man who, for his timidity, was chosen to be the murderer of Eric Scott-Davies in a faked crime. But something goes wrong. Instead of a fake corpse there is a very dead one.
Sheringham comes on the scene, consumes copious libations, and finally solves the crime. And then in the last chapter you get the surprise of your life.
From Martin Edwards's DO YOU WRITE UNDER YOUR OWN NAME? (12 November 2010):
True, it is really a tricksy whodunit, and the psychological forays are relatively shallow. And the setting, in an English country house (there is a map of the scene on the endpapers) is very much in the classic tradition.
Yet it is a clever piece of work, with Roger Sheringham proving even more fallible than ever in his role of interfering amateur sleuth.
From "Anthony Berkeley" (Martin Edwards):
. . . in 'The Second Shot' (1930), when Sheringham demonstrates, through apparently irrefutable logic, that one particular suspect must have committed the crime and those concerned then agree to shield her. There follows, however, a typically cunning Berkeley twist, with an epilogue in which the real villain of the piece, whom Sheringham has failed to identify, explains why he committed the crime.
Category: Detective fiction

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