Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fore!

THE CHIEF WITNESS.
By Herbert Adams (1874-1952 [1958?]).
1940.
Online HERE.
The game of golf used to be one of the most popular, high-profile sports in the world. The fact that Agatha Christie used it as a background for some of her mysteries (e.g., Murder on the Links, Why Didn't They Ask Evans?) testifies to that. Not to be outdone, Christie's compatriot Herbert Adams made the most of the game's popularity in a good many of his own mysteries. The GAD Wiki characterizes Adams this way:
. . . an English writer of over fifty 'cosy' mystery novels between 1924 and 1958, which were often set in or around golfing competitions. He also wrote short stories, humorous verse and two other mystery novels under the pseudonym Jonathan Gray. His first series character was Jimmy Haswell, a London criminal lawyer, who featured in nine books.  . . .
Concerning The Chief Witness, here are some brief excerpts from recent evaluations; follow the links to fuller reviews:
. . . On the whole The Chief Witness is a rather entertaining read, and it's a book I can recommend to fans of Golden Age crime novels.  . . . — dfordoom, VINTAGE POP FICTIONS (August 15, 2013)
. . . As the foregoing may indicate, I have mixed feelings about the book, but overall I liked it sufficiently that I will give Adams another try.  . . . — Bob Houk, THE ADVENTURES OF BOB (August 18, 2013)
Here is more about a few other examples of Adams's fiction, most of which, according to several generations of reviewers, wasn't all that bad, but wasn't all that great either:

~ THE SECRET OF BOGEY HOUSE (1924):
". . . we felt that we were being led on by a deliberately fostered expectancy of great doings just ahead which invariably failed to materialize." Full review HERE.

~ THE CROOKED LIP (1926):
"This murder mystery is complicated by a clever impersonation." Review HERE.

~ THE QUEEN'S GATE MYSTERY (1927):
"How Bruden came to his end and where the treasure lies concealed Jimmy discovers in a fashion which should not arouse the envy of Scotland Yard." Review HERE (go to page 223, top left).

~ ROGUES FALL OUT (1928):
"This tale gets off to a bad start and is rather confused, but there's some excitement at the end." Review HERE.
"[The book has] a rising young barrister with the instincts of a criminologist." Review HERE (Jump To page 364, left bottom).
"[The main character] demonstrates the futility of entrusting the responsibilities of Sherlock to a fellow of ordinary mental calibre instead of to an intellectual super-man." Review HERE.

~ ODDWAYS (1929):
"Two brothers are killed on the same evening and an innocent girl is held as a murderess." Review HERE.

~ THE GOLF HOUSE MURDER (1933):
". . . criminals are obvious from beginning." Review HERE.

~ THE STRANGE MURDER OF HATTON, K.C. (1933):
"Adams's best to date." Review HERE.

~ MYSTERY AND MINETTE (1934):
"Time-Passer." Review HERE.

~ THE BODY IN THE BUNKER (1935):
". . . average detective work." Review HERE. Online HERE.

~ DEATH OFF THE FAIRWAY (1936):
"There is some nice detection of stride patterns and the time element of the crime and soon the list of suspects grows, until Bennion is able to apply the final rule that identifies the criminal." Review HERE.

~ MURDER WITHOUT RISK (1936):
"Average." Review HERE.

~ VICTORY SONG (1943):
"A 'time passer' is how I would describe the book, with nothing invidious intended." Review HERE.

~ THE WRITING ON THE WALL (1945):
". . . an intelligently written, if at times ordinary, detective story with a clever, but ultimately, simple plot, subtly placed clues and more than one eager attempt at confusing the reader by dangling a red herring in front of them – which made for a rewarding and satisfying read." Review HERE.

~ EXIT THE SKELETON (1952):
Online HERE.

~ THE JUDAS KISS (1955):
Online HERE.

~ DEATH OF A VIEWER (1958):
". . . once we get to the actual detecting the story runs along nicely. More than one house guest has what they might see as good reason to act against the deceased, so most of them are suspected at one time or another and the solution roars up after an unexpected twist which certainly caught me by surprise. I regret to say however that on the whole this novel is not one of the best I have read." Review HERE. Online HERE.

Resource:
- Five of Adams's novels are available as Text files at Project Gutenberg Australia HERE.

Category: Detective fiction

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